Hidden Agendas and Sincerity

Call me paranoid, but I like knowing who I’m talking to, who I’m hearing from, and what the nature of the “transaction” is.

I wrote a post about the disillusionment of lighting up when an email comes in only to find out that it’s spam, a lie, a trick, a manipulation, a sham. That feels disappointing.

I feel the same way when I read an article only to find out that it is sponsored or “branded” content, positioned to look like editorial content but actually something that somebody’s trying to sell me on or persuade me about. Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads, was an illuminating piece in The New York Times by Tanzina Vega.

Ads are fine; we know they are there to sell us something. We can ignore them or explore whether we are interested. But something designed to look like objective journalism that is actually not… well it makes me a bit sad. It makes me feel like I’m being manipulated.

And it makes the world feel a little lonelier.

I’m a big fan of sincerity, directness, people knowing who it is they’re dealing with and why — and being able to opt in or out of the conversation. It’s a bit like food labels — if it’s 100% sugar, fine. Just let me know, and I’ll make a decision as to whether to consume it.

But it’s nice to know if we’re just having a conversation or if you’ve got something to sell.



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