First-World Problems

Do you ever wonder how many people living first-world lives might be compelled to change their behaviors on any given day, all of those behaviors likely to be superficial or trivial? Me, too. The question occurred to me yesterday when I came across three things in my Apple News feed.

For openers, we could have read about the fact that things are so bad The Washington Post ran an article entitled, “5th Circuit finds Biden White House, CDC likely violated First Amendment. If we’d done so, we would have found this:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Friday ruled that the Biden White House, top government health officials, and the FBI likely violated the First Amendment by improperly influencing tech companies’ decisions to remove or suppress posts on the coronavirus and elections.

Kinda makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? But it won’t change any of our behaviors, that’s for sure. If we cared about that, we’d never have let it happen in the first place. Besides, we have more important things to worry about.

That’s why the Food Network needs us to be aware of, “20 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate”. Yep. There are some things ya just gotta leave at room temperature:

Cold storage is a necessity for many foods, but the chilly air of the fridge can have a negative effect on some healthy favorites. Keep these foods at their best by keeping them out of the fridge.

Seriously. If you put some stuff in the fridge, the whole country might go to Hell or something.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal (?!) positively needs you to know, “You’re Doing Your Laundry Wrong: 7 Tips to Clean Clothes More Expertly”:

Laundry is a relatively easy chore, or so you might think … It turns out, most of us probably do a number of things that make our washes less effective, harsher on our clothes and harmful to the environment. Those who want to avoid these mistakes should heed these lessons well.

Really, people. If you’re doing reckless shit like using fabric softeners or dryer sheets, before you know it, the President, the CDC, and media/tech cabal will … oh … never mind.

Let’s Take a Moment

Before we believe anything — anything — we see or hear, regardless of the source or the medium, we should consider three things:

  1. The Agenda:
  • Who wrote or said whatever we’re expected to believe?
  • Why are we expected to believe it?

2. The Stakes:

  • What did whomever wrote or said what we’re expected to believe want you to buy, literally or figuratively?
  • Why did whomever wrote or said what we’re expected to believe what us to buy it?

3. The Consequences:

  • What will happen if we do or we don’t buy it?
  • Why and according to whom will those things happen?

If we’re not willing to consider those three things, we should just go back to whatever we were doing and accept the narrative du jour at face value. After all, we can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the fact that the leader of a once proud and prosperous constitutional republic violated the most fundamental liberty in that republic’s constitution.

We have food to keep and laundry to do.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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  1. Do you agree that it is sad that news and marketing have become so intertwined that we can no longer tell whether what is being said is true? Or partially true? Or wholly false?

    I thought that this started in the U.S. in 2016, when the government and media seemed to legitimize the telling of lies as “the public good.” But I immediately realized that it was much, much older than that. Don’t believe me? Read any of the media advertisements in the 1800s. Read any of the campaign ads from the 1800s. Heck, read any of the news from the 1800s. Telling the truth has almost never been considered the public good, at least in the U.S. of A.

    Like you, Mark, many of my friends counsel to “follow the money.” Who benefits by saying this? This is helpful, but when I try to do that it’s often impossible–many things are published by shadowy organizations who don’t disclose their funders or their agenda. Or are an extension of another unnamed organization. It is hugely depressing to me that in the name of the public good, lies and truth (or a combination of both, because none of us actually knows the whole truth) must be published on an equal footing to guarantee the right to freedom of speech. What do we do with this impasse? Has anyone thought about this?

    And what about the destruction of the public trust when a lie is on an equal footing with the truth? How can we trust what ANYONE says if people who are supposed to be serving the public good are only serving their own pocketbooks? Or egos? It’s a bigger question than just the First Amendment. Should, for example, Hitler’s speeches be treated the same way by the Constitution or the country’s laws as the speeches of Will Rogers?