Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who can you trust?

I often talk about the fundamental difference between short and long term decisions and why it is so hard to make the long ones – like skipping the delicious dessert now to achieve health goals later or like giving up some of your paycheck now for a comfortable retirement later. 

One of the primary reasons for this dissociation is that there are different brain modules that make the decisions.  Your amygdala has a strong influence on what you do now, and your amygdala codes for emotion.  So the taste of the chocolate cake or the desire to blow your paycheck on a night on the town evokes a pleasure reaction from the amygdala that we find hard to suppress.  The long term thinking in the prefrontal cortex just can’t compete.

So I was reading a paper that brought a new dimension to this process.  They claimed that there is enough psychological distance between us and our future selves that we don’t really trust them.  What if we give up dessert now and that son of a gun blows it by eating lots of dessert later?  He has all the fun and we still don’t achieve that health goal.  That would really suck!!  And since we can’t trust him, we are really better off just eating the chocolate cake now. 

So your worst enemy is your future self. Or at least your conception of him/her.

Hashtag Jacking Terrorists

I  heard a great story on On the Media this morning (in the podcast from last weekend) where Intelwire.com editor J.M. Berger talked about a hashtag-jacking strategy that ISIS is using in their insurrection against the Iraqi government.  They are exploiting the popularity of the World Cup, and the hashtag #worldcup to market their message. 

But they are not just doing the basic “ISIS just took over Erbil #worldcup” like an amateur would.  They are a little more social media clever than that.  If you got the tweet “ISIS 5 Erbil 0 #worldcup” it would make you stop and think for a second.  “What Group is Erbil in?  Oh, wait a minute!  I just got hashtag jacked !!” 

Of course, you may not feel any better about a vicious terrorist group just because they have a clever social media strategy.  But if their intention is simply awareness that they are winning, this is a solid way to do that.  It engages just enough attention to get remembered. 

Updated June 25: I forgot to mention that Twitter took down the account because this violates their terms of service.  But when you have 10s of thousands of members in your organization, it is pretty easy to set another one up.  Hashtags are a lot easier to jack than usernames for this reason.