An Ode to the Hidden Strength of the Underdog

“It was not the privileged and fortunate who took in the Jews in France. It was the marginal and the damaged, which should remind us that there are real limits to what evil and misfortune can accomplish. If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening. If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction. But you create a community of remote misses. If you take away a mother or a father, you cause suffering and despair. But one time in ten, out of that despair rises an indomitable force. You see the giant and the shepherd in the Valley of Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose that we ever imagine.”-Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Malcolm Gladwell just wrote a new book. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Everyone hears about it when Malcolm Gladwell writes a new book. Surely, you have to at least skim it to understand which new theories your sophisticated friends are spouting at cocktail parties. Perhaps, I am too harsh. After all, I had only read Tipping Point previous to this one. Regardless, I’m going to explain why you need to read his new book, David and Goliath.

I’ve been reading up on the benefits of smaller armies. One of the big examples that comes to mind is that of Napoleon. Through his radically different war tactics, he was able to conquer vast areas of Europe using fluidity and smaller regimes that are more easily able to react to changes. The parallel to our time that is usually produced is that of Google, always adapting, forever fluid.

Then, of course, there is the cultural narrative that we assign to the “underdog.” You’ve seen it in a million sports movies, and you’re always rooting for the underdog to come out on top. You want Rudy to win. Those kids in Coach Carter, you’re on their side. Disregarding sports films, you’re still rooting for the unexpected, the challenging. Part of the reason that I balled like a baby at the end of American History X was because I expected the underdog to change his ways and turn his life around; right as he was rising above his obstacle, he was taken away. (Maybe that’s a spoiler, but I’m sure it was vague enough for you too enjoy the movie still.

We root for these heroes because we think they need our support. We think that it is them against the world, and we assume their side has less artillery. David and Goliath peers behind that image, and instead, looks at the reasoning for so many underdog victories.

As it turns out, there is such a thing as a desirable difficultly. I’d always suspected it, but as he is famous for doing, Gladwell found an eloquent way to put it into words and back it up.

One thing that I’ve been doing for a while is reading Stoic philosophy (Aurelius, Seneca, etc.). Why? Because I’m a nerd and because it teaches simple, day-to-day lessons, usually involving our perceptions and reactions to obstacles.

“Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces – to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it – and makes it burn still higher.”-Marcus Aurelius

It’s important to view ‘obstacles as opportunities’, as Tucker Max would say. It’s also important to realize why a lot of these obstacles are opportunities, in the specific sense. Dyslexics like Richard Branson learn to compensate by listening and taking risks. Traumatic childhoods and lost parents produce a mental toughness and obstinate that facilitates ambition and goal reaching. The down and out, disheartened, and oppressed often resort to ‘trickster’ techniques; things that allow them a leg up on their oppressors. It’s this creativity that kills sacred cows and produces innovation.

These things happen on a daily basis. Let me show you:

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-The ski racing company that I work for is smaller than Spyder. This, however, is an advantage in the fluidity of our marketing strategy and the personal impact we have with customers. Everything is personal and the loyalty for the brand is tremendous. Even without the massive marketing budget of competitors, we are forced to innovated on the fronts of social media and public relations, which are often times more effective than traditional advertising.

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-Craft beer. A few weeks ago my academic adviser and I were talking about craft beer (What else? Classes? No, thanks.) He told me a story of one of his favorite bars in Milwaukee, Roman’s Pub, and how before the craft beer revolution, they had to stock the bar with craft beer. Why? Because the owner of the bar “didn’t get along with” a major distributor of macro beer, and allegedly told them to go to hell. From then on (1996), they stocked with local supply and specialty brews and became an early adopter of the upcoming trend in the beer world. Worked out pretty well for them, I’d say.

-I often lament the fact that I grew up in such a small town in the middle of nowhere. I’m not a fan of that fact. However, it did afford me opportunities that I couldn’t articulate before I read this book. Where my school was so small that it didn’t even have a soccer team (wtf, right?), this obstacle was also an opportunity. In the book, Gladwell talks about the benefits of being a big fish in a small pond. Certainly then, starting a band in such a small town made me a huge fish in a pond with no other musical fish. This was encouraging. Because of this, I had an identity I probably couldn’t have afforded growing up in New York City. Maybe. I mean, you can never say for sure. But, despite growing up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, I think I turned out alright and decently cultured, too. Maybe growing up there allowed me to appreciate exploration and other cultures more. I don’t know. But the obstacle part of the equation is overrated.

I know, if you tried, you could think of a million more examples of difficulties being used as benefits. This is a healthy way of viewing the world. Some circumstances are unavoidable. What you do with your circumstances is what matters. To end with another from Marcus Aurelius: “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Public Relations Lessons from the Late Great John F Kennedy

Politicians are excellent at a certain rhetoric device called “framing.” They know how to switch conversations to more favorable topics, they know how to avoid the ugly answers, and sometimes they can flip a public relations disaster into an underdog victory.

On the 50th anniversary of his assassination, I’m going to show you how JFK did just that, winning over the audience as an underdog even after some sharp criticisms from Harry Truman.

Background story:

In 1960, just before the Democratic National Convention, Harry Truman openly criticized his own party for favoring JFK’s presidential nomination. He attacked JFK on multiple fronts, including his age, lack of experience, his powerful political backing that “pressured” votes, among other things. This was the last Democrat president to hold office, not only contributing bad press to JFK’s political career, but asking him to step down from the Presidential race. Naturally, this was a public relations disaster

Kennedy now had a couple of options. What would you do if a leader in your industry attacked the very core of your business, of your character? Would ignoring it help you or hurt you? Is there a chance you could position yourself in a way that leverages the criticism as an advantage? You already know what I’m going to say.

Using some crazy form of PR Jujitsu, JFK took everything Truman said, and using the weight of Truman’s own words, came out on top. He presented his weaknesses as strengths. He did this on live television in the style of a Western showdown. It was dramatic. The end result was that JFK positioned himself as an underdog hero representing the emerging generation, his “new frontier.” And of course, he won the presidency.

So how did he do it? What lessons can we take away from his victory?

(The implicit 1st rule of his success here is that you must view your obstacles as opportunities. If the paradigm is always pointed to the positive and the possible advantageous outcomes, it is not difficult to turn a negative situation around.)

1. Pick Your Battles Wisely

The internet has made PR as confusing as it has ever been. At any time, from any angle, your image could be attacked. How do you deal with that kind of pressure?

Evidence suggests that often you can ignore it.

Ryan Holiday recently wrote a brilliant article about negative press. In it, he says that the first lesson is, “A significant portion of all criticism (especially online) is just trolling. It depends on and desires your participation. Opt out and you’ve robbed it of the oxygen it needs.” Smaller people bate larger people for a response. Don’t acknowledge it. You’re simply giving fuel to criticism that otherwise would not have taken off. Jay-Z never needs to acknowledge some loud mouthed no name, because nobody hears the dude. But if he does acknowledge, the position of the no name has suddenly been given a platform.

Look at it this way: you can save your energy for bigger battles. You can save your energy to make a better product.

However, JFK was criticized by the former president of the United States, the last Democrat to hold that office. That he chose to respond proves that Kennedy knew how to pick his battles wisely. John Hellman wrote that his response was so effective that his team was “grateful the attack had given them such a well-publicized opportunity to confront doubts about Kennedy’s qualifications.”

2. Play by the Rules of the Real World

There are about two schools of thought regarding public relations. Option A: all press is good press; Option B: positive press is good press. The real world is not so cut and dry. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of your press was positive? If everybody you knew said nice things about you all the time? Of course! But if the world is anything like the YouTube comments section (not the new boring one), it is filled with trolls, who are embittered and scornful people. The world is also filled with sneakier villains: competitive friends, friendly competitors, attention seeking (read: click baiting) journalists, and faulty team members. And sometimes, shit just happens. You’re going to want be able to respond when something does not go according to favor. It’s something that is really tough to plan for; I’m sure JFK didn’t expect Truman to fire into him with complaints. But bad news is something you should expect.

Sidenote: according to a study published in 2010 (Berger, Sorensen, Rasmussen), sometimes negative press can increase sales, especially when dealing with smaller brands. Here’s the link.

3. “Always Create Compelling Spectacles.”

Robert Greene’s 37th Rule of Power, “Always Create Compelling Spectacles,” comes in quite handy. Since we’ve already established that this is a necessary battle and that, in reality, there is no cut and dry way advice for a response, now we have a story to tell. And we’re going to make this story exciting. Ryan Holiday’s advice is perfect: “If you are to respond, remember this simple rule: The response must be more interesting than the initial salvo.”

John F. Kennedy baked compelling spectacles into all of his actions, which contributed to his public image as a young war hero, fighting for the new frontier for the next generation. This particular event was perfect for bolstering his image.

John Hellman said that Kennedy “chose not to downplay Truman’s remarks, but rather to heighten them into a dramatic crisis.” Furthermore, he said “Kennedy transformed the political problem into a dramatic crisis evoking the showdown toward which the western movies of the day invariably moved.”

Check out Truman’s initial speech:

Now watch Kennedy’s response:

Don’t have time to watch? Here’s what happened:

Kennedy confidently stated: “I do not intend to step aside at anyone’s request.” He then went on to say he had “encountered and survived every kind of opposition,” re-positioning himself as a bold war hero. Kennedy went point by point against Truman’s criticisms, and without emphasizing what Truman said, reasserted his own strengths. He expertly framed the situation in an exciting way. Which leads to the next tip:

4. Learn How to Frame Stories

“If we are to establish a test for the presidency, whereby 14 years in major elective office is insufficient experience, then all but 3 of the 10 possibilities mentioned by Mr. Truman last Saturday must be ruled out. All but a handful of our presidents, since the very founding of our nation, should be ruled out. And every president elevated to that office in the 20th century should have been ruled out, including the three great Democratic presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, himself.”-John F. Kennedy (source)

“Kennedy shaped the problem of Truman’s attack into a scenario pleasing to both himself and the public.”-John Hellman

At stake was Kennedy’s reputation and image, and he was vulnerable. Here he stood, directly preceding the nomination, being harshly criticized by the most able person to do so: the last Democratic president. Truman presumably was everything that Kennedy was not: experienced, tactful, and most importantly, organic.

See, Truman actually had a point in his critique. He described Kennedy as a “victim of circumstances,” and blamed “some of his overzealous backers.” He actually said that Kennedy demonstrated ability and energy, but then turned to ask if Kennedy was ready for the country, or if the country was truly ready for him. Truman then urged Kennedy to be patient with his ambition. He hoped that someone with “the greatest possible maturity and experience would be available at this time.”

Kennedy’s response: flawless. He demonstrated his energy and vigor by framing his lack of experience by comparing it to Truman’s own amount of experience. Kennedy’s point: if Truman criticizes Kennedy’s amount of experience, then he is hypocritical. Smarter still, Kennedy ignored what he couldn’t frame: his candidacy’s “overzealous backers.” Instead, he focused on his own battles and experiences and ended up sounded brave, conversely making Truman sound old and bitter. This certainly reflected on his campaign image of the youth leader bringing America into the “New Frontier.”

5. Stay Cool: Smile Through It.

“Just remember this: the cliche “all press is good press” is a cliche because it is true. In six months, no one will remember particulars of a news story you’re freaking out about right now–it probably won’t even make it on Wikipedia. Unless you make it worse by overreacting, saying something stupid or pissing the journalist off even more”-Ryan Holiday

It’s probably a smaller issue than you’re making it out to be. Even if it’s a big deal, put on your actor’s mask and play it cool. Don’t ignite the fire; the spark will die out if you let it. Let’s say a small fire has been kindled: calmly put it out. What does freaking out do? Even if you get the issue under control, you look like a disheveled fool doing so.

John F. Kennedy was the denotation of confident the day he called his July 4th press conference. John Hellman wrote, “Kennedy’s heavy-lidded, detached stare and slightly ironic smile also suggested the young rebel’s attitude.” Robert Greene echoed this, saying he resembled James Dean, “particularly in his air of cool detachment.” Hell, Kennedy was known for his coolness. During the famous 1st televised debate against Richard Nixon, he showed up tanned, toned, and relaxed. This contrasted with a sweaty, anxious Nixon. This leads to the lesson: whether it is a crisis or not, act like it is not. The way it tends to be, you decide the tone of the confrontation. If you’re unreasonably emotional, prepare for some more shitty backlash. Kennedy played it cool, he parlayed his weaknesses into strengths, and he won the crowd. Heed his lessons, protect your image, and master every public relations event, planned or not.

Why Musicians Make the Best Entrepreneurs

Take a moment to moment to reflect on some of your favorite bands. Chances are, at least one person in at least one of those bands is involved in a successful business venture aside from the band. Tom Delonge founded both Macbeth and Modlife while balancing two bands and a family (in addition to a few past ventures). Travis Barker started successful clothing company Famous Stars & Straps. Kanye West is yelling on rooftops about his creative agency. We all know Jay-Z’s Story. There are thousands of examples of these. 50 Cent, P. Diddy, Eminem. There’s also this list. There certainly seems to be a trend.

So, why do musicians consistently make successful entrepreneurs?

Musicians make good entrepreneurs because musicians are entrepreneurs. At a a very base level, the best musicians engage in idea conception, strategic planning, product design, internet marketing, sales, negotiation, self-education, investment, fundraising, and so many more activities strikingly similar to those we consider entrepreneurs.

When I was in a band, I was forced to learn a myriad of skills that helped me get where I’m at today. I learned basic graphic design and Photoshop skills. I learned how to negotiate pricing with venues. I learned leadership; it’s hard to find a good drummer, let alone run regular band practices and mediate problems between oh so sensitive musicians. I learned how to “create compelling spectacles” as Robert Greene says. Like P.T. Barnum says, “without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!” My public relations jobs were easy after my time as a musician.

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So, I’ve done a bit of research, and here’s what I find musicians have in common with entrepreneurs:

1. Self-Motivation

“Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself.”–P.T. Barnum

One thing the two have in common: a lack of a safety net. You don’t clock in and out of work until you hit 40 hours. You don’t stop working on the weekend. You’re a fucking hustler. I just talked to a friend of mine, a jazz musician, that says every other jazz musician he knows plays in at least 4 bands. How would you balance 4 different jobs? They don’t have to do it, either. It’s arguably easier to wake up every morning for a secure job that you know you have to be at, than it is to force yourself to wake up early enough to not only accomplish all of your tasks, but to conceptualize what those tasks are. Nobody gives you an instruction manual when you’re a musician or an entrepreneur. Business books can help inspire you or give you ideas, but they can’t put willpower in your life. Musicians and entrepreneurs both require innate motivation and independence in their pursuits.

2. They’re Disruptors

“The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone is aiming for base hits.”-Tim Ferriss

There’s no need for a new start-up if there’s nothing to fix, right? True, but there’s always something to fix, right down to daily annoyances. Nest is a company that is reinventing things that annoy the shit out of me, like smoke detectors and thermostats. Similarly, music has a history of disruption. What’s cool about music, though, is the product itself isn’t what is to be fixed. It’s culture. The history is much deeper than this example, but Woodstock was a great example of this. Punk rock, both at its worst and at its best, seeks to reconstruct (or destroy) culture. Hip hop gave a voice to the voiceless. Entrepreneurs seek to simplify, they seek to make things better than they currently are. Musicians seek honesty, they seek a fundamental truth that will resonate with people. Both seek to do what has never been done or said before.

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3. Public Relations and Branding

“There’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”-Oscar Wilde

Say what you will, but Miley Cyrus is smarter than you. Or, whoever is marketing for her is. They know that, especially in today’s media landscape, if you’re not doing something interesting, you won’t be talked about. And if you’re not being talked about, you lose. Most musicians don’t have the massive platform that Miley Cyrus does. That’s okay. They still understand the power of branding. Take Travis Barker: Dude looks cool as fuck all the time. The mohawk, the tattoos, the sleeveless tees? They’re all assets that help build the brand of FS&S. Did you know Terry Richardson used to play bass in a band. His work, certainly controversial, is unique and well branded, and he carries himself with brand-consciousness as well. There’s a lot to the marketing mix that musicians, as well as entrepreneurs, don’t understand. But they tend to be damn good at crafting a brand.

4. Leadership and Group Cohesion

“The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is the leadership of men.”-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Not all who join bands are or will be great leaders, just as not everybody that works for a start-up will be. But the kid who, after practicing his instrument for hours a day, leaves the basement to phone his band members to organize weekly band practices will learn a lot about leadership. For starters, this musical CEO will learn the value of good co-workers. Everyone who’s played in a band has had the delightful experience of playing with a lazy bassist, an egotistical guitar player, or a drummer that skips practice. Leadership is when someone decides to cut the poison from the product. Good leaders in business and music surround themselves with amazing people, because that makes them do amazing things. As Tim Ferriss says, “you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.” A good band leader learns how to pick ‘em right and how to organize ‘em once they’re there. They develop a talent for delegation and for presenting clear and effective goals. They learn how to act on stage, to speak to a crowd, and how to carry the band through a performance. An early stage start-up founder that picks poisonous co-founders and employees is asking for a disaster. That same CEO needs to know how to lead her team using clear cut communication and effective goal setting. I cannot emphasize enough much a musician can learn about business leadership.

Simplifilm and Book Marketing Innovations

There’s a company called Simplifilm that makes really cool videos for businesses.

A lot of what they do is make videos for authors that are trying to sell their books. Ryan Holiday, Robert Greene, Seth Godin, and James Altucher are all authors that have used the service very effectively.

I like this ad for Seth Godin’s Icarus Deception:

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin’s, and I have been long before I saw this video. That’s why I find this ad interesting.

I’ve read a few of his books, and I’ve read his blog for a long time, but I’ve never seen a visual interpretation of his work. Simplifilm articulates very well what is in the book, while at the same time leaving a compelling enough mystery to purchase the book. They do this very well with both businesses and authors. In fact, I’d give them credit for my initial interest decision in purchasing Ryan Holiday’s book, which in turn became one of my favorite and most influential books.

One doesn’t usually encounter video advertisements for books. Logically, it doesn’t make sense right away. Books are textual mediums, meaning they should be publicized with book reviews and recommendations (usually exemplified by the New York Times book review). That’s why I think this is so creative, though. There are a million niche audiences that buy books. I think I’m actually one of them. I don’t read the New York Times book review, and if I did, I would never make a purchasing decision based on it. A review may perhaps put the book on my radar, but that’s about all I’d give it credit for.

A video gives a sneak peak at the book in a visually appealing way from the author’s point of view. The next steps are easier, too. You’re already online; All you need to do it follow the link at the end of the video to check out more information on the book. This is incredibly innovative, and the videos are actually fun to watch.

The Genius of George Carlin

Most of those who inspire me have nothing to do with marketing. I never wanted to be a communicator because David Ogilvy kicked my ass into gear. No executive at Edelman has ever compelled me to write a press release.

That being said, I owe a lot to those who do inspire me. It’s a long list. For all different sorts of reasons, these are the people that inspire me as a communicator: Tucker Max, Tom Delonge, Ryan Holiday, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Lefsetz, Matt Stone & Trey Parker, my Uncle Danny, Tupac Shakur, Quentin Tarintino, Brad Pitt, Chuck Palahniuk, John F. Kennedy, and of course, the great George Carlin.

If I had to claim one figure as the one that inspired me to go into strategic communications, it would be George Carlin.

Of course, this is ironic. Carlin hated marketing and consumerism and spoke out often on these themes:

George Carlin was a cynical bastard. He perfected black humor and satire. But, most importantly, he was honest. His communication was authentic, and everybody felt it. In his own words: “If honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, the whole system would collapse.”

Carlin also taught me about words. His endless rants on euphemisms taught me more about writing and the English language than any class I will ever take.

I think the greatest lesson George Carlin’s comedy taught me was something Robert Greene professes: to Enter Action With Boldness.

This is the guy that literally defined which words weren’t allowed on television by listing them on television preceding the court case. Constantly pushing the envelope led to Carlin’s best material, and it is the reason that virtually every popular comedian today will list him as an inspiration. One my favorite bits of all time features Carlin railing against American’s incessant fears:

In his own words: “Comedy is filled with surprise, so when I cross a line, I like to find out where the line might be and then cross it deliberately, and then make the audience happy about crossing the line with me.”

The Benefits of a Low-Information Diet (or What’s Wrong With The News)

I read the news. Most of the time, I get it from aggregates like Google News or Reddit. But I remain very skeptical, and I question everything I read. I have two main qualms about the news, one public and one personal.

First, the public case:

In 1919, Upton Sinclair published a scathing expose of American journalism titled The Brass Check. In 2012, Ryan Holiday published one called Trust Me, I’m Lying. There are some striking similarities between the two and some very good reasons to be skeptical of the news.

First, Holiday compares the iterative style of today’s blogs to that of yellow journalism of the past. Since both thrive on one time readers (each time you click on a blog post, the site’s advertising worth goes up), both of them relied on sensationalist headlines. Furthermore, blogs today are easy to manipulate by PR specialists because of their almost desperate need for content (some requiring writers to post up to 7 times a day). Marketers are easily able to pitch their story to a smaller blog with less of a following and less journalistic standards (but a larger hunger for content). Once their story is posted on a smaller outlet, they trade up the chain using anonymous tips or even official pitches and press releases to garner media attention in bigger blogs. It doesn’t matter if the story is false, because the blog can simply link to the smaller story and quote them on it, effectively hijacking page views from the “work” the smaller blog did, but without the responsibility of the first-hand reporter.

As Holiday says in the book, “The medium believes it is giving the people what they want when it simplifies, sensationalizes, and panders.  This creates countless opportunities for manipulation and influence.  I know what the cumulative effect of this manipulation is: Its effect is unreality.  Surrounded by illusions, we lash out at our fellow man for his very humanness, congratulate ourselves as a cover for apathy, and confuse advertising with art.  Reality.  Our lives.  Knowing what is important.  Information.  These have been the casualties.”

All of this information is available in Ryan Holiday’s book Trust Me I’m Lying.

On another note, I believe that today’s journalism favors sensationalism because of the virality potential of social media. Holiday explains “high-valence emotions,” emotions that are strong enough to urge people to share the story with their friends. He says, “anger, fear, excitement, or laughter–these drive us to spread.” Therefore, nothing is sacred, and stories are deliberately delivered to stir up debate, controversy, surprise, and anger. Sean Parker experienced this first hand a few months ago when he was the victim of a deluge of internet hate caused by inaccurate journalism. After getting details on his wedding wrong, thus ensuing and onslaught of hate, he wrote this piece as his response. About the incident, he said, “never mind that none of the accusations were actually true. Truth has a funny way of getting in the way of a great story.”

And of course, I have my personal reasons for abstaining from a-high information diet:

Most of it is simply irrelevant.

Like I said previously, I keep up with the news via aggregates and Reddit. This means that, while ignoring the vast amount of crap produces by CNN, Gawker, or Business Insider, I still know what is going on in the world.

But I get to ignore Miley Cyrus. Because keeping tabs on her life will not do anything to my life except steal my most valuable resource: my time.

Tim Ferriss details a section in his book about the benefits of a low-information diet on one’s life. His quote: “Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.” He also has 39 posts with the tag “low-information diet” on his blog.

Ryan Holiday’s wise words once again apply here: “When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information? Most readers have abandoned even pretending to consider this.”

HuffingtonPost’s most popular headlines today (9/9/2013)? “Kellie Pickler WOWS In Teeny Bikini”, “Miley Cyrus Gets Naked And Breaks Down Crying,” and “This Incredible Obituary May Be The Best Thing You Read All Week,” among others.

My point? Not all news is unimportant news. A lot of it is very pertinent. But most readers today cannot distinguish the different. Disregarding the sensationalist and false headlines above, for personal reasons, I’d rather read a book or go hiking than read things that have no bearing on my life and that I will forget about by the weekend.

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