SELFIES Vs. SELF PORTRAITS

What you choose to fill this frame will depend on how much thought you think your message needs to have. Choosing between too much time and not enough time can be tricky.

What you choose to fill this frame will depend on how much thought you think your message needs to have. Choosing between too much time and not enough time can be tricky.

Messages, everywhere. Everyone tries to stake out his or her message territory. Good messages shape demonstrable action, and demonstrable action provides the raw materials for good messages.

With me so far?

Now it gets more complicated. There will always a tension between immediacy and accuracy. Even trickier, consider this: the equation is non-linear. More time spent working on a polished message does not necessarily deliver a more accurate one.

Immediacy is a photo selfie. An Instagram snapshot tries to capture a tiny moment of where you are, right now. Does it tell a complete story? Usually no. But it does capture a moment, even if you've gone to pains to contrive that moment. It speaks to immediacy and feeds a strange, growing audience hunger for endless stimulation, not to mention briefly relieves the pressure that producers (essentially everyone with a smart phone these days) feel to put fresh content out into the world. Being immediate is important in a culture that expects endlessly fresh material, and thinks anything just a few minutes old lives lugubriously in the past. But immediate imagery can be terribly risky if you don't have a polished reason to release it. To put out endless content without a cogent, clear message risks rapidly losing control of your own identity, or at least muddying up your image.

Accuracy requires something more. While always subjective, accuracy demands tight attachments to context and intention. Where immediate messages function just fine with only limited context, accurate messages are all about context. Accurate messages capture nuances and subtleties, even as they try to snag audiences with deeper hooks that merely glancing sensations.

It's not just in the world of business these days where we find the great challenge of defining message goals. From school applications, to legal postures posed for both judicial courts and street-side courts of public opinion, to the endless social gestures we all embody as we try to fit in to various communities, the nature of our messages define us. Immediacy answers the charge that we were, in fact, paying attention and capable of responding. Accuracy answers the charge that we're able to think for ourselves, and properly synthesize information.

Media management means making meaningful moves. Sometimes we must act quickly; sometimes we must act more thoughtfully. I find that one is not better than the other, even if I'm biased to more thoughtful modes than endlessly spontaneous snapshots and snippets of social media. Brief flashes of inspiration can cut through the filters that curtail value and interest. More time and attention can weigh down that which needs to be light on its feet. Between the two, there is always tension. Beware the selfie that reveals more than you might have wished when the morning light comes, and beware the thoughtful construction that soporifically stupefies your audience into not caring at all.

Between the two you'll find a dynamic space for balanced speed versus thoughtful reflection. Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't.

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