Whatchoo Talkin’ ‘Bout? (Misinformation)
So, my wife and I were recently shopping for a new car for our family. And, I know… before you start commenting on how this is the absolute worst time in American history to be buying a car, you gotta admit that it’s also the worst time in American history to be driving around an eight-passenger gas guzzler.
Anyway, I started searching… fifty miles from my house… 250 miles from my house… 500 miles from my house… NATIONWIDE! I spoke and emailed with salespeople over 3,000 miles away looking for “the best deal” available. And, without a single exception, each sales rep guaranteed me that they’d find me a “really great deal” on the car I was looking for.
When all was said and done, as we were pulling our new car into the driveway, my son asked if we “got a good deal”. All I could tell him was, “Well, buddy… we got the best deal out there. Because it was the ONLY deal out there. We paid more than I wanted to, but less than other people are stuck paying… and I don’t have to try to incorporate the cost of a cross-country road trip into the purchase price.”
My point is that the phrase “a really good deal on your next car” has so many meanings that it really has no meaning at all.
It’s like the Pittsburgh Steelers right now – or any football team in the history of the league – who have three solid quarterbacks, all vying for the QB1 spot. If you have three quarterbacks, it means that you don’t have A STARTING quarterback.
If you are offering me a “great deal” on accessories I don’t need; or a “great deal” compared to luxury cars I’m not shopping for; or a “great deal” featuring local Connecticut incentives that don’t apply to me in California… the words “great deal” have so many definitions that the words simply lack all true meaning.
But, what’s worse is when the car dealerships start making up new word combinations to even further complicate things.
Switching gears for a second… When I recently went to a nice restaurant, I was told what the specials were, how they were prepared, and how much they cost. When I asked if accommodations could be made for us, they replied yes or no and how much more that might cost. Then, when the bill showed up at the end of the meal… guess what? That’s the amount that was shown at the bottom of the bill. Of course, it was up to me regarding how much I added on for a gratuity. But, the bottom line of what was expected of me was clearly written in black and white.
Now… moving back to my car buying experience. I saw the car I wanted. I saw what the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price was… by the way, the word “suggested” isn’t really a suggestion, but more a starting point. Then, I asked if there were any accommodations that could be made for us. But, unlike the steak and swordfish plate, I got a series of word salad that seemed to be English, but in reality were just a bunch of connected syllables without true meaning.
“How much does the car cost?”
“Well, here is our MSRP. Plus there will be about $1,000 in factory upgrades.”
“So, it’ll cost $1,000 above MSRP?”
“Well, then there are $2,000 in dealership upgrades on top of that.”
“Can’t you not do those and keep the price at $1,000 above MSRP?”
“No. They’re done at the dealership.”
“Aren’t YOU the dealership?”
“Yes, but I’m in sales. That happens at receiving.”
“Ok. So, $3,000 above MSRP, then?”
“Well, no. Then there are taxes, fees, and licensing.”
“How much do those add up to?”
“On what day it is?”
“But, then there are rebates, incentives and tax breaks that will bring your price back down. Do you have a trade in?”
“How much do those add up to?”
Our conversations went round and round like this with one dealership after another. As my brother – who has worked in the used car industry for years – put it, “You just gotta know how to play the game.”
Why is it a game, in the first place?
There’s no game to play when I buy something at Target. There are no games at my son’s favorite skateshop. There’s not even a game to play when I book international travel. The only games out there seem to be when we are spending money on the three most significant purchases of our lives: Cars, Homes, and Engagement rings!
My point is that it’s incredibly difficult to communicate and agree upon anything if we don’t share the same definitions. And, if you are like a car salesman who keeps changing the definition of the word “price”, then we’ll never be able to have a purposeful conversation nor even begin to understand one another.
All this brings me to Ukraine.
If I turn back the clock… way back to 2020, I remember reading about some stuff that had to do with Ukraine. There were headlines out there that had something to do with someone who was corrupt, someone else’s son who may have been even more corrupt, some possibly corrupt company located in Ukraine… and it all seemed to stem from a disregarded laptop. But, according to our major news outlets and social media platforms, these headlines weren’t credible. They were labeled as “misinformation”.
What the heck is “misinformation”?
When a teenager says he was just out with friends watching a movie and then fails an at-home drug test… was his movie story “misinformation”? NO! He lied.
“Misinformation” is about as valid of a word as “MSRP”. It’s an English word, complete with a prefix, root word and a suffix… but it’s meaningless.
When the news agencies said that Hunter’s laptop stories were “misinformation”, they meant that these stories were lies. Falsehoods. Made up fiction.
But, as it turns out… THEY were the liars all along.
And now, here we are two years later and the word “misinformation” is surrounding Ukraine again: Russians are spreading “misinformation” about the ongoing war; Zelensky is spreading “misinformation” about the perspectives of Ukranians on the ground; Psaki is spreading “misinformation” about what the White House plans to do or can do in support of Ukraine; China is spreading “misinformation” about their role in funding Russia.
There is literally so much usage of the word “misinformation” that no ACTUAL information is being shared.
Why don’t we go back to the language we learned in kindergarten. It’s not “misinformation”. It’s lies.
MSNBC called The New York Post liars. Psaki called Putin a liar. Putin called Zelensky a liar. Lies, lies, lies. Now… It’s up to each of us to examine each of these perspectives and try to determine which stories are true, and which are lies.
You see, the word “misinformation” lends a half-ounce of credibility to whatever is being said simply by inferring that the story has some sort of “information” in it. If you told me that you just flew to Mars and back, that wouldn’t be “some sort of distorted information”… it would be FALSE. A LIE.
But, you see… if I label lies as “misinformation”, then when I knowingly lie to your face, my falsehoods can simply be referred to as “misinformation” as well. Then, neither of us are liars. We just have our own truths to live by.
And all that is partly why we are in such a mess.
We can’t even agree on what is true and what is a lie. We can’t communicate with an agreed upon language. We can’t agree on empirical facts. And, because of all this, even when we think we might be in agreement, we really aren’t.
We’re back to the price of the car… playing a game instead of engaging in meaningful interpersonal communication.
So, next time you hear someone say the words “MSRP” or “misinformation”, you need to respond like little Arnold Jackson and ask “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?”
We need to stop with the made up words… words like “misinformation”, “disinformation”, “equity”, “non-binary”, “woke”and other “neopronouns”… Instead, we need to ask “What do you mean by that?” and seek understanding – using our common language.
If something is empirically truthful, then it’s true. If it’s a subjective take, then it’s an opinion. If it’s false presented as truth, it’s a LIE.
It’s not that difficult.
And when we communicate simply and truthfully, we can then easily determine which directions to move in… whether it be in Ukraine, at the car dealership, or in our own homes.
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