Blame has sadly become the watchword of our evolving 21st Century culture, and unless bad experiences have literally been caused by nothing more than the weather, it has become a social norm to pinpoint the individual or organisation that is identified to be ‘at fault’.
In the early days of this ‘progressive’ revolution, many of us fell into the trap of seeing the ambulance chasing phenomenon and the surge of ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’ litigation as nothing more than an americanisation, not unlike the commercialisation of Halloween which has become just another timetabled roll-out on the shelves of every supermarket store.
But something far more sinister has unfolded alongside the developing sense of personal entitlement and the rejection of responsibility which has gone with it. Culturally, we have started to believe that others can be held responsible for our own feelings and emotional response to any incident, whether there was meaningful or wilful intent to hurt, control or abuse on the part of another or not.
Whilst the Internet age continues to deliver many advantages and benefits to our lives on an almost daily basis, it also has brought with it a regressive flip side that in no small way sees the near 100% opinion content of news channels and their pretenders being taken, absorbed and often regurgitated as pure fact.
The destructive force and exponential amplification of skewed viewpoints within this new world of echo chambers, coupled with an unconscious form of confirmation bias on the part of many, has led to social and mainstream media alike becoming judge, jury and executioner in one. Careers and even lives are being wrecked with little or no thought for the facts, circumstances and the subtle realities and nuances that we all know to exist within real world interactions when we pause for a moment and think about them. Perception is everything and whether we like it or not, when two people interact, there will always be at least two truths created.
The strap line of Dr Frank Luntz’s book ‘Words that Work’; “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear’ sums up the reality of this situation very well. As we look upon the explosion of the Weinstein scandal, the sharing of #me too and now the outing of what is being portrayed as a sex-pest insurgency at Westminster, we are all in danger of elevating poor social skills, overstimulated egos and downright stupidity to the level of deliberate criminal intent. By doing so, we risk the trivialisation and dismissal of genuine crime against vulnerable people who are already too scared to seek help.
Many doors have thankfully now been opened to equality within all workplaces. Yet the counter-intuitive nature of the response that such sensationalism promotes, could be far reaching.
An increased reluctance on the part of high profile and senior level managers or employers to place themselves at what many of them will now perceive to be an increased risk of spurious accusations, will not encourage the enlightened thinking that will promote open access to the opportunities for all that silent prejudices have obstructed the most.
This reality makes uncomfortable reading. But the fact remains that no level of regulation or control will ever counter the way that any individual privately thinks.
No matter what their background or outward views, people operating at this level in any organisation or capacity will always have the opportunity to say and be seen to do one thing, whilst quietly, perhaps even less than consciously doing quite another.