Over the past three or four weeks I have had three unrelated people express outrage over things I wrote, said, did or in one case didn’t do.

Coincidences are weird things!

I have come to understand why most senior living websites tend to choose safe topics and stay neutral in their writing. Over the past three or four weeks I have had three people express outrage over things I wrote, said, did or, in one case, did not do.

Case #1 – Ageism

A friend sent me an email telling me about a industry friend of hers who was outraged over the horrible ageism displayed in two television ads, one produced by the discount travel site Kayak and a second one produced by A Place for Mom.   I went looking for the ads and was able to find the Kayak ad, which you can see below, but could never quite figure out which APFM ad she was talking about (one where apparently the adult daughter did all the talking and the mother who needed care just sat there). I thought there might be a story or a guest article on ageism though, honestly, I found the Kayak commercial to be humorous and felt that it did not in any way put the elder in a bad light.

I got the introduction, set a phone call and it did not go well. I could never quite figure out why she thought the Kayak commercial was offensive and she was no help about the APFM ad, in fact she had no idea who APFM was or what they did. It was clear she thought I was at best unenlightened and likely much worse. I suggested that she author an article about her concerns (because she wanted to start a campaign to get these two ads taken off the air). She told me she wasn’t interested because either people got it or didn’t and she wasn’t interested in wasting time with the unenlightened (my term but her sentiment). Ok . . .

Case #2 – My product is the best thing in the whole world and you better write about it

Every month I get several requests or suggestions that I write about someone’s product or service. I am always glad to get those emails, but in most cases I don’t end up writing about them. I have to be convinced of their value and/or they need to be unique or revolutionary. Finally, because I have some blog sponsors who pay us to help tell their stories, I am very cautious about devaluing what they pay for.

There is this guy who has this thing that he believes will revolutionize care. He is having great difficulty getting anyone to agree with him and purchase his product. He is very angry about that. While I have looked at his product and we have talked by phone and I have offered some thoughts on how he might move forward, I have not written about his thing.

This is the subject line of the last email he sent me: “So Called interest in technical innovation you profess is a SHAM” I feel badly for him and understand his frustration that people are not as excited about his thing as he thinks they should be, but to attack . . . well . . . it is just kind of sad. The rest of the email followed the same theme and same tone. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did write back suggesting maybe a big part of his problem was being a jerk.

Case #3 – Shameless Sensationalism

A few days ago I published an article where I made a comparison between the Sherpas and senior living line staff. I got this email response:

Comparing 16 dead sherpas to food service workers and personal care attendants is click baiting, crass, sensationalist, and offensive. The points of economic disparity and lack of educational opportunities could have/SHOULD have been better made without the Fox-News-worthy headline of the sherpas’ death. At the very least, it is in poor taste.

This one was the most difficult and caused me to do some serious soul searching. In fairness, I made the Sherpa reference because it was current news and something people were thinking about, something I was thinking about. And yes . . . something I thought would attract readers. It was particularly personal because I have a “half a degree separation” from someone who was attempting the summit this year.  I have been watching his soul searching about what happened. It was not my intent to compare line staff with those who died, but rather make the comparison that line staff do the hardest, dirtiest and even most dangerous jobs with little or no glory. What Sherpas are demanding is more gratitude, and more financial security for their families if a tragedy occurs.

Keeping On

When people are unhappy with me I take it more personally than I should. I feel guilty and sad and yet, I try on this blog to address topics that would not necessarily otherwise get talked about. I am trying to look at issues, ideas and situations through different lenses as a way of helping the industry get even better. I always appreciate the comments. I think about them and care what you think. I am not always right, but always learning and always willing to be challenged. It is why I don’t moderate comments (except for SPAM), will keep tackling difficult topics and will continue to get outraged comments, emails and phone calls. I appreciate every single one of them.

Moderating Outrage

We live in a world where outrage has become the norm and this is unfortunate, because it tends to shut-down discussion and discourse, instead forcing people to back into their corners and fortify their positions. It makes it hard to grow and learn. With respect to the Sherpa article I wish the person who sent me the email had posted the complaint in the group discussion with just a bit less outrage where we could have a conversation about it. I might have ended up learning something or even seeing it her way.

Two Final Thoughts

  1. Consistently we receive way more positive feedback than negative. What is curious is that while it is personally more satisfying and gratifying to receive positive feedback, negative feedback is almost always a guarantee of higher traffic numbers and levels of engagement.
  2. If we did it the same as the other organizations there would be no reason for Senior Housing Forum to exist.

Steve Moran

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