With all the concern about Fake News now (and rightly so) it is not only dangerous to be living in a ‘news bubble’ of solely one’s own views, but also extremely easy to end up there. Social media is a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to slowly but inexorably whittling down our personal views, algorithmically shaping what we see with ‘their’ assumptions of what we want. Yet without the other side’s point-of-view it is dangerous to fall into a false sense of righteous yet sincere self-confidence.
I was reminded about that over-used expression “there are two sides to every story” (in reality there are often more than two) when I recently read about Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of GE, and how he would always travelled not only by private jet but had a second corporate jet follow him around ‘just in case’, what the press dubbed a shadow jet. How Ridiculous! How extraordinarily extravagant and wasteful! Oh, but wait… keep reading the story – perhaps find a 2nd or 3rd source – and it turns out that in fact the shadow jet was only used in dangerous or remote places where service to the primary jet is scarce, or where the security team decided it was too risky to not have.
For a CEO of a major global conglomerate the idea of being stranded in a war-torn or kidnap-prone nation it kind of does make some sense. If I was told my job was keeping him safe and not to worry about the costs, I would send a couple of jets, a battalion with jet-packs and James Bond (if he’s not busy protecting Her Majesty).
(Token Photo of Shadowy-looking jet)
An inconvenient other side of the story for someone who doesn’t like Big Oil or private jet-flying CEOs, for sure, but there are other such “WTF!” stories that have a sensible side to them.
How about the famous Van Halen pre-show rider of only brown M&Ms to be served to them in their dressing room – spoilt bloody rock stars! Oh wait…it was in fact a test for the Stage Managers to see if they were even reading the rider because if they weren’t then who’s to say that the stage and sound system is in working order.
(yes this entire piece is just an excuse to post an awesome ‘Van Halen-in-the-80s’ photo)
How about that crazy pay-out that McDonalds had to dole out when that lady poured coffee on herself while driving! Are you kidding me! Ah…. Hang on, turns out this wasn’t some skinny latte that got her shirt wet. The coffee was served so insanely hot to her that she had major 2nd degree burns that covered 16% of her body – the kind that required severe skin grafts and surgical reconstruction. The kind no one expects from buying takeaway coffee. Bit awkward too that McDonalds had ignored literally hundreds of complaints about the overly hot drinks before this happened. The judge hit them with major punitive damages, exactly as the law is supposed to work.
So, remember the next time you hear about a ridiculous news story that just maybe it’s not so ridiculous after all, maybe the actual concern is that you’re hearing it but not really listening.