Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Thought of the day: Is effective communication a virtue? I asked myself this while surfing the slick site of a "professional image consultant," so slathered with cliches and glittering promises, cheesy aesthetics alone seemed to eliminate the possibility that anything useful was going on. But this person, and hundreds like her, earn a nice living running seminars and giving speeches. They're effective. But where is the wisdom? I've been thinking about this in the context of the commercial media, for which I somewhat ambivalently work. The basic motive is to profitably communicate, not necessarily to wisely, usefully, challengingly, or educationally communicate. Unfortunately, this is also the line preached by social engineer-ish leftists and elitists, who create ghettoes in ivory towers from which they poo-poo the dumbing down of society. Still, it is worth challenging the conventional wisdom of businesses, p.r. and advertising people, and yes, motivational speakers, that effective communication is a virtue. Put morbidly, the Nazis were some of the most effective communicators there were. Less morbidly, so was Bill Clinton on the campaign trail, and, apparently, throughout his many scandals. But in a capitalist society, we must always distinguish, when need be, between effectiveness and wisdom.

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