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There’s a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

With social media, it seems that manufactured outrage is now the thing to worry about.

I try and avoid politics and controversial topics. I’d much rather be messing around with electronics and making YouTube videos (please like, subscribe etc…). But I thought this one was quite interesting - mostly because it came up in a group discussion with a bunch of people who are normally quite level headed and sensible.

Have a look at this share price chart:

Wickes Share Price Chart

What on earth happened - the company must have announced some kind of profit warning or something, right?

Well, no, having a look on Twitter we can see that #boycotwickes is trending.

Boycott Wickes

What on earth happened?

At first pass it looks like someone from Wickes had a bit of a meltdown and went a bit bonkers:


But let’s dig a bit deeper. Whenever I see quotes like this, my first reaction is “Did they really say that? Seems very unlikely that someone would say something like that knowing that they are on a public platform.”

But what did they say? Looking at the transcript of the YouTube video the quote is based on we find all the words, but the intent doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad as the selected quote makes out. I’ve pasted the relevant portion of the transcript down below - but even this larger snippet is missing most of the context.

Now, I’m not saying that what he said is right or wrong - I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’m just wondering if maybe there was a lot more nuance than the outrage would have you believe.

One of the biggest problems with this particular case is that the outrage was based on a tweet.


The tweet linked to a blog post, and the blog post linked to a very long YouTube video - 7 hours long! The relevant part is about 5 hours 40 minutes into the video…

That’s just too many layers of indirection for most people to even bother with - and if the tweet aligns with what you already believe, why would you bother?

Of course, it didn’t help that the tweet was amplified by Elon (why couldn’t you have a just stuck to rockets and electric cars?).


I have to say, if I was even slightly rich and famous, I would just pay someone to manage my social media accounts: “keep me fairly mainstream and non-controversial. Don’t lose me any money.”

So, what can we learn from this?

  • The annoying conclusion is that you can’t trust anything, especially if it aligns with your existing beliefs. You need to do your own research and check the sources, and that’s hard work.
  • The other lesson could be, just don’t say anything that could be remotely controversial - so good luck with that!

Sadly we now live in a world where people make a living by getting attention on social media. The easiest way to do that is to make people outraged by something. And outraged people are more than happy to amplify the outrage.

Anyway, here’s the transcript that all this outrage was based on (this is auto-generated by YouTube - hence the odd formatting). Frankly I’m amazed that anyone was willing to sit through 7 hours of what is quite a boring video!

I don’t think I’m ever going to change some of the bigots out there’s uh mind I’m never gonna win that argument with them so we were doing it to show support to the community and hopefully to try and get people to be more Curious in where the most of the population are which is in this sort of slightly ignorant but mostly kind position yeah because it’s moving that group because that’s where nearly everybody is yeah and it doesn’t feel like that sometimes when the 10 are really going at you but it’s moving that group which changes the way that media Outlets behave it was what will change law it’s what will bring you know peace and acceptance across across the community so you know and I’m just not prepared to spend time as an organization or as an individual putting effort into that that 10 at the bottom because I’m not going to win I’m not going to change their mind and it’s just going to be Soul destroying you know I’d rather we put all our energy and support the community and helping all of the people in our team who think very differently to that and helping to educate support get them to learn so that the whole world of overtime moves now I say that’s easy for me to do because it’s not attacking me personally but you know I understand how that’s harder when it’s attacking somebody personally but you know they’re just not worth the airspace I didn’t respond to one email just not worth it no that’s true true allyship Frieza buy more buy more Wix paints definitely you’ve heard it here first um I mean Bobby I know you know we know each other well I know you are absolutely no stranger to the the pylon the media backlash the the nonsense that goes with that you know from your experience of working with organizations who may be frightened as they engage on this journey of more inclusion and acceptance what’s the advice you would give to them about that fear of being at the center of a twister storm or you know negative media coverage in some of our mainstream media I guess there’s two things and and the first one actually comes back to to um um that point that I I am saying about Wickes and Fraser earlier you know it’s set your organizational position organizations do this all the all of the time you know if an organization um is talking about becoming carbon neutral they’ll sit down for an afternoon decide what their position is on it distill it down to a paragraph they’ll give it to every single person that’s speaking for the organization and all of their boards so everybody’s completely on board that if they get asked about it they can just reiterate what the what the organization’s position is you need to do that about trans and non-binary people once you’ve got that position the next thing to do is to gain confidence around inclusion of trans and non-binary people but really specifically train your comms teams you know anything else carbon capture we’d be training here to Commerce teams that if you get anything coming in this is what you respond to and and that’s always the problem if there’s no position set and there’s no training of the comms team when the negative comments come in the comms teams simply don’t know how to respond and so that’s when the tail chasing and the tail spins and everything happen and the wrong response happens normally it’s the hand you hold your hand up in horror you know we’re not we’re not doing that honest you know which is the wrong response the the other thing to bear in mind and I think Fraser touched on it again it’s a small percentage of people you know I’ve had I’ve had so many pylons over the over the last sort of five years I had a pile on the other day because I posted a picture of some flowers that my neighbors brought round to me because they saw me talking on telly about the hate I’d received and I got piled on for posting posting about a bunch of flowers that somebody somebody gave me pylon all of the negative stuff normally last two days because there’s not enough people in that negative group to sustain that Focus any longer so they’ll do a pylon for me for two days which is great for me because it gives me a chance to refresh my block list and then two days later they’ll move on to somebody else you know because they’re very very small loud group of people and I think you know organizations need to bear that in mind you know big organizations that typically wouldn’t pay any mind at all to that that type of comment from any other any other part of our society that they were being criticized they run you just need to handle it the same way stop being afraid nothing to be afraid that’s a great perspective Bobby just to build on that point Bobby so I ever made for a second Emily you know in a commercial sense the people who are sort of going oh we’re gonna boycott you and we had a few of those and stuff they’re not you know they need a tint of paint they’re going to go to the nearest place to them next time they need one but however I would say at the other end of the spectrum the people who feel supported and feel that we are there for them they will show you proper loyalty so you know even just taking this down to a very pure commercial perspective you can build a huge loyalty with one group the other 10 at the other end and I’m making up the numbers are 10. you know they’re just hot air and they will they will go and buy a tin and paint in the nearest place to them and that might have been us before it might not be nice after afterwards and equally if they do come in and buy that’s in the paint and behave that way then they’re not welcome in our stores


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Chris Greening


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A collection of slightly mad projects, instructive/educational videos, and generally interesting stuff. Building projects around the Arduino and ESP32 platforms - we'll be exploring AI, Computer Vision, Audio, 3D Printing - it may get a bit eclectic...

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