I’ve been watching with interest the proliferation of parody spoof Twiiter user accounts over the last while. These spoof accounts have been generated by witty anonymous users to take cheap shots at large, global organisations who are doings things worthy of critique. One of the best examples is the BP Global Public Relationsaccount.
Of all the parody accounts created, the PR-type accounts are the most common and they represent really cynical, sardonic and incisive viewpoints on what big corporates are up to. Anther example is FIFAGlobalPR. One sourcedescribes the BPGlobalPR parody:
In the wake of the worst environmental disaster in US history, comedy can still provide healing power, especially when BP (British Petroleum) is the brunt of all jokes.
British Petroleum has reportedly asked Twitter to shut down the account. Twitter apparently responded by telling BP to fix the leak first (nice!). Here are other examples of the spoof tweets …
While the tweets are clearly aimed to be humorous, one must wonder if there’s an element of truth in them? Is this not why they are funny? As the public, in the face of an environmental disaster where the powers-that-be hide behind corporate PR, we do wonder what their personal motivations and feelings are?
Besides the PR nightmare that this twitter account represents for BP, they are not the biggest problem. The biggest problem are the pendulum-swing anti-stories created. Anti-stories are perception-based stories that get told about an organisations, culture or person in the face of a significant message, and have as their DNA the highly cynical anthithesis of the intended message. They are pendulum swing opposites, if you like, of how messages can be heard and interpreted.
The issue with anti-stories is how there are inherent levels of truth within the stories, despite the polarised version of the story compared to the intended message. This is the dangerous power of an anti-story. This is the power of the BP paraody account: there lies truth within. But are the BPGlobalPR tweets the anti-stories? Possibly not. There are far worse criticisms leveled against BP on the other side of the spectrum.
But where is the truth of the anti-stories then? It’s my sense that the BPGlobalPR tweets inhabit the space between the “stories” put out there by BP to mitigate the PR risk of the disaster and the anti-stories of the GreenPeace’s of the world.
One can use Hegel’s dialetic approach to philosophy to find the space between that I’m speaking of. Here’s what Hegel suggested:
- The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
- The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis, a reaction to the proposition.
- The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition.
So, here’s what this mean’s in application:
- BP puts out a statement about the disaster i.e. “We are sorry, and we’re doing all we can to fix the problem.” This becomes a thesis of sorts.
- Greenpeace come to the party with an all out attack against BP which becomes the antithesis of this position.
- The truth of the two positions is thus probably somewhere in the middle as a synthesis that BPGlobalPR represents.
The value of a synthesis said Hegel, is how it solves the conflict between the to positions and reconciles them. Who would have thought that a paraody twitter account would help us find the turth about the BP position and messages they put out there about the disaster?