“EVERYTHING WE SEE, HEAR AND WATCH ON THE INTERNET IS TRUE!”
“Hey, did you read those two posts about the NFL and how they plan on punishing those players who didn’t stand for the National Anthem???”
I’ll wager you did. I’ll also wager some of you reading this reposted one or both, “LIKED” them and even commented on them.
In every speech, workshop, consultation, appearance, textual posting, and even were I to use semaphore, I would say or write this exact phrase.
Stop being so damned gullible.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOUR POLITICS
It’s a shame I have to write that, but in light of what discourse, simple disagreement and conversation have become in America at the moment, it has to be printed and put out there right away.
What we are discussing here may be based on an issue with political underpinnings, but this is about YOU. Your brand. Your Image. Your reputation, integrity, and how you are viewed by everyone from your Mom to your employer and beyond.
This is about not knee-jerking on social media or in personal conversation, especially places like Facebook and Twitter. Because once again, we know from our previous lessons, (you HAVE been reading up on a regular basis here, yes?), when it’s on the Internet in any form, it lasts forever. People will be able to look up what you said, what you wrote, how you stated it, and know forever not just how incredibly wrong you are, but be able to judge for themselves your level of responsibility, ability to consider all manner of fact before making a statement, and how you might react if in a pivotal role.
Being part of a rampaging herd basing it’s opinion on complete and provable falsehoods will cost you a job. It will cost you respect. It will permanently damage your image and brand. And quite often, it will make you the butt of jokes and an centerpiece of ridicule.
So this is NOT about politics.
We’re clear? Good. Let’s continue.
NFL RULES, THE NATIONAL ANTHEM AND UNSUBSTANTIATED DRIBBLE
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments about the National anthem, NFL players who stand or kneel in silent protest, and his call to fire the players who don’t stand for the anthem, this post made the rounds like the proverbial wildfire on Facebook and other social media.
It was passed around with no accreditation. No one knew where it came from. Posters said it came from the NFL rule book. People were celebrating what they said was “forthcoming punishment of players by the NFL”.
It did not.
I have the NFL rulebook for 2017 right in front of me. No such passage exists on pages 62-63. There is also no rule in that book that players must be present for the Anthem. The NFL encourages their players to stand for the Anthem, but as late as 2016 said they are not required to stand.
Article 1, Section 2 of “Game Timing” only requires the kickoff is not delayed, and the coin toss is on schedule, but says nothing of when players are required to be on the field outside of having sufficient time to warm up.
Some people in and out of the NFL are referring to Article 8, which deals with personal messages pregame. This broad section gives the NFL tremendous latitude to fine players as it sees fit and take additional action (including suspension) after addressing a player’s team. However, there is no mention of any requirement on where players should be during the anthem or how they should act, outside of a potentially broad use of Article 8.
I could post hundreds of links speaking to this very issue, something I brought up immediately upon seeing it because I know the rules. Here’s a few reports about the story right off the top of a Google search, which took, according to Google, .45 seconds.
Yet the Internet was flooded with people applauding the NFL’s rule to punish the players. I will guarantee not one of these people bothered to take the less than 30 seconds it takes to verify such a written statement and discover from whence it came and the context.
The NFL “Game Operations Manual”, a separate document and very different from stated rules of the game, states the following which was mis-characterized in the post that had no attribution:
The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.
During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.
The word “may” is key here and was missed by those celebrating. The post and subsequent posters used this to proclaim the NFL was going to punish players. The NFL itself properly knocked that down and said they had no intention of punishing anyone.
What struck me in this case, and in the one to follow, was the people who commented and applauded. People who should know better. A few CEO’s. More than a few people that actually shocked me would fall for something so blatantly suspect.
But that wasn’t the only one that left me more than a little speechless. And people who know me will laugh about that ever happening.
FALLING FOR THE TROLL
Monday following the NFL games on 24 September comes this one, again circling the globe (and the drain) with record speed came this troll bait. To save the dignity of the very high profile individual who posted this, the name, company and picture have been redacted.
Completely fake. Created by a known Internet troll who sits back and laughs his derriere off at having snared millions who knee jerked.
Want proof about those who now and forever more can be discovered at passing along nothing more than a lie? I went into this individual’s Linked In profile, this posting, and here’s a sample of the comments. Again, redacted to save the dignity of those who should have known better.
THE OBVIOUS TAKEAWAY
You have an image to protect. You have a personal brand to be caretaker of every single day. While there are some who might call this “no big deal” and dismiss it, all of this evidence will now live forever on the Internet. Right here and on many other pages. It’s something that will also fit nicely and perfectly into every one of my talks about always being aware of your brand.
- Everything you see on the Internet is suspect.
- Verify where anything and everything comes from and ensure it’s from a legitimate source.
- Quote the source at all times.
- If necessary, apologize for being wrong. Own up to your mistake, because once out there it never goes away.
- As Granny used to say, “use your head for something other than a hat rack”.
- Don’t be a sucker.