What Even Are Power Dynamics?

Two things recently caught my attention that are different, but descendent from the same basic principle.

The first was occurred a couple of mornings ago, as I was watching the ABC’S News Breakfast program before I left for work.

They were interviewing former Managing Director Mark Scott about his forthcoming book. The book seemed to be something of a memoire of his time as head of the ABC and his following gig as head of the NSW Department of Education.

They were talking about social media and the news and how people consume information – something Your Humble Correspondent did a lot of in his time at university just as platforms like Twitter went fully mainstream.

During the conversation, Scott (never trust a man with two first names) dropped his thesis that perhaps people need to slow down their consumption of news, not demand the instant gratification of the clickbait headline and barely coherent prose of a reporter quickly tapping out a few pars on their phone while the story unfolds in front of them.

That perhaps news consumers need to be more discerning in what they consume and that would with things like Twitter mobs and stuff like that.

Now by this point I was yelling at the two hosts, Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland, to ask the obvious questions: Is there a role we (the ABC News division) play in this as well? Does what we publish, when and how we publish, shape and drive people to consume news in a particular way?

Sadly, neither were forthcoming.

Clearly, what news is being produced is the best form if it, and no further correspondence will be entered into.

To lazily re-write a line from Springfield Elementary Principal, Seymour Skinner: no, it’s the consumers who are wrong.

That was the first thing.

The second was an article from the Executive Managing Editor of Insider Inc Jessica Liebman telling prospective employees that if they don’t send in a thank you note after their job interview, then they will not get the job.

Get. Absolutely. Stuffed.

In my (admittedly limited) experience participating in the soul-crushing occupation of seeking paid employment, I was lucky if I found out I’d even been rejected for a job I had interviewed for. If I had not even made the interview stage the odds of being told as such could be rounded down to zero and not even the most type-a statistician in the world would complain.

Respect works both ways. Employers absolutely do not treat prospective employees with respect. Why should I, as a candidate for a role, have to meet some unadvertised criteria because you’re the sort of arsehole that thinks being a pretentious shitlord is a substantive replacement for a stunning lack of personality?

The sort of person that wonders why so many of their staff “just can’t cut it” and resign, has deeply flawed opinions on the work ethics of “millennials” (even though millennials are now, like me, in their mid-30s) and just never quite put their finger on why they’ve once again been left off the invite email to post-work Friday drinks.

The fundamental thing both these stories have in common is a startling lack of ability to self-reflect. They don’t see how their role in their respective situation is deeply connected to how people respond to it.

They take issue with the response, but refuse to understand where it comes from, instead casting blame the other way. They don’t see where the vast majority of the power lies. It’s not with the news consumers, and it’s certainly not with the unemployed.

Neither Mark Scott’s nor Jessica Liebman’s ultimate positions are bad. There absolutely should be a discussion about how and how much media we consume, we should also talk about what’s important when it comes to hiring people as well as the entire job application process.

But if half the discussion is people refusing to accept they play a critical role in how both discussions take place, then all you’re doing is shouting at the clouds.

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