A lack of accurate information is wreaking havoc on the average citizens mental and physical well being and their ability to make rational decisions.
Over the past month, I have had more conversations than I could have imagined with colleagues, friends, and families, all of who are making drastic life changes due to the multiple crisis we find ourselves in today. Common phrases like Civil War, Government Control, Coup, Anarchy, Communist, Dictator, Socialism, Civil Unrest, and Corruption are usually involved as a factor behind these life changing decisions.
People are moving from locations where they have sucessful businesses, where their children grew up, where their friends and family are.... They are purchasing firearms for the first time and installing alarm systems. They are isolating themselves and having conversations with their kids about how to react to a carjacking, or if Mom or Dad are assaulted in a crowd.
The people I have talked with recently are not conspiracy nuts......they are not considered far right or left......they are just average, normal, people. They work hard and have reached for the American dream (whatever their version) in order to provide a better life for their loved ones. And now they fear it will be taken from them.
Much of what I do and have done for the past twenty years is crisis avoidance and reaction. I have done this on a micro level, planning and executing security protective operations, and on a macro level, working with large corporations to ensure business continuity. I have also worked in emergency management on a state and national level as a Joint Force Headquarters Commander in the state of Arizona.
Never in all my time, working to avoid and manage crisis events, did I come across a tactic that stated, "spread fear and panic in order to control the public". Not once did I conduct a drill that involved telling the general public that if they did not do what I told them, than they would die. Never did I see standard operating procedures that stated, let rioters and looters tear down infrastructure and hurt citizens and their ability to make a living.
It was in fact, it was just the opposite. As a leader, my job was to instill confidence in the public, regardless of how bad the situation. If everyone were actually going to die, I would still be responsible for keeping those people calm, and ensuring they had a sense of purpose and direction. I would never be allowed to let the strong prey on the weak. I would, at the time that I served, have been arrested for dereliction of duty.
Lets just talk about one of the crisis we are facing currently. The response to the Covid 19 pandemic around our globe should be labeled a leadership failure. It does not matter which side. Whoever is in charge of disseminating accurate information to the people has failed. While the communications personnel from government agencies and different task forces may be telling the truth and disseminating accurate information, the way they are doing it is extremely irresponsible.
There are always going to be what are called second and third order effects from any action taken to mitigate a threat. For instance, lock-down will likely cause economic hardship. The laser focus on fighting the disease will likely cause other communicable diseases to go unnoticed, potentially compounding an already bad situation. As the virus changes and scientist discover things they did not already know, government distrust will increase, causing civil unrest.
Global officials already know that second and third order effect will happen. They typically have plans in place to combat pandemics, to include communication plans. When the pandemic initially struck, plans should have been initiated and communicated to the public.
For example, "We will likely have to lockdown in order to fight this pandemic......if that happens, we will provide all businesses that lose revenue due to this forced lockdown with commensurate financial assistance. This assistance was already built into our planning for a situation that we are well prepared to handle".
Can you see the difference in the way that was communicated compared to the way we currently receive the information? What does that tell you? Either our government officials are self serving, corrupt, or incompetent. The news is going to report in the worst way possible. They follow the mantra of "if it bleeds it leads". The more people they can get glued to the tube or their social media feed, the better.
The bottom line is this.......fear is being spread through multiple communications channels right now. Why? What is the goal. For the media, I do not think it is a conspiracy to take down the American political system. I do not think their vision goes that far. There is definitely bias, but more that that, money is quite a motivator.
The top media groups in the world earn revenues between 14.5 billion and 220 billion annually. That's a whole lot of money. Social Media companies like Facebook earn 70 billion and Twitter 936.23 million. There is no great conspiracy there other than to control a market and get us all addicted to it.
Some governments on the other hand, have made it evident that their reason for spreading fear is to control and influence the population. Now, population control is important during a crisis, but how you control the population typically depends on how you view them. For me, I considered the people to be my neighbors, friends, and family. I have to live near and among you all. My kids go to public school with yours. Precedent dictates that my best interests are aligned with the people. If I succeed, you succeed.
Politicians and government officials might not view the people the same way I do. Some politicians have made it clear that they are here to fight for us, but very few. Most have not spent enough time in the real world to understand what you go through on a day to day basis. Even those that scream the loudest for the "little guy" still make 70-80 percent more annually than the average American.
You can tell how they view you through their policy and orders. If you look at the difference in response from state to state, you might find that those with better communications plans are typically more sucessful. Leaders who instill confidence are able to convince the public to do the right thing without forcing them. Those states are seeing a decrease in cases. States that are enacting regulations that dictate micro level actions (like how many people are allowed in your house) are continuing to see infection increase as well as a marked rise in government distrust and civil unrest.
Its evident that many politicians view their constituents as children, instead of responsible adults who survive in this world on a day to day basis. One thing that is emphasised in crisis management is that you must have public support to successfully resolve a situation. Without it, you will have to dictate terms, enforce those terms, and waste more time and resources doing so. It's always better when the public voluntarily submits to doing the right thing, even helps you convince others.
Communication is the root cause of our compounding of crisis right now and ultimately, the fear everyone is feeling. We need clear communication from leaders. Without it, we will continue to flail along and eventually create more crisis situations. Its difficult to make good decisions when they are made from a position of fear.
Ask questions, research, validate sources............