Friday, October 11, 2013

The Vatican Effect–Attracting the Undesirable

The Vatican Effect (aka the Streisand Effect):

The more noise someone makes trying to hide or refute something, the more Life they give it, requiring a closer investigation as a result.

As a student of the human experience, I am always fascinated by the ways we strive for success as well as the ways we strive to create complexity (or even failure) in our lives.

The name of the Vatican Effect originates from the process by which Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” went from obscurity to sensation practically overnight.  It would probably have  died in obscurity had the Vatican not set up a committee to investigate and stymie the potential popularity of the book.  Of course many people wanted to see why the Vatican would do such a thing and the rest is history regarding Dan Brown’s success.

In striving to create success or to avoid creating failure, we need to be careful that we don’t inadvertently create our own version of the Vatican Effect.

Some fun examples from this week.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post, The Power of the Four-Poster Interview, where I mused about a Minister in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and potential conflict of interest allegations with an alleged lover of hers.

Naturally a blog post with such controversial subject matter will attract a lot of attention.  However, in observing how the blog post was being shared, there were as many people who were upset by it as there were who supported it.

Of course in sharing it, their anger was amplified as readership of the blog post grew very quickly, making it instantly one of my top blog posts of the week.

So while some people complained about how quickly the blog post was gaining popularity, they were in fact equally responsible for its rapid distribution.

No rain drop believes it is responsible for the flood

A couple of weeks ago, in making what I thought were benign musings about a local election campaign in Calgary, Alberta, I wrote Is Calgary’s Crime Rate Out of Control?, discussing one candidate’s use of negative emotion and hype (without data to back up her assertions) in order to “scare” voters.

The blog post had its surge in readership as new posts do and then faded into what I refer to as “idling mode”, not scoring higher or lower than other blog posts that were being read.

Earlier this week, a person self-described as her marketing and social media lead thought it would be a good idea to instigate a little argument with me on Twitter, sending readership of this blog post through the roof and drawing much condemnation of this person and the candidate she represented.

And then things went quiet again with this blog post until today when the same person surfaced with this tweet:


For those not familiar with this expression, it is a literal translation of a Polish phrase which, depending on what part of Poland you are from, the context of the situation and how the expression is used, can be interpreted to mean:

Not my problem.

F___ this shit.

F___ off.

I was amused by this since I knew what such a spontaneous tweet without any instigation on anyone’s part would do and so shortly after this tweet appeared, I checked my blog stats.

Sure enough, people were back to reading the blog that had created some damage to the candidate’s campaign and which had died down again (for the second time) earlier this week.

Third time’s a charm, I guess.

Insatiable curiosity can be an interesting and devastating weapon when used correctly (or misused accidentally).

It can be fatal from a career perspective when such a message is delivered to a potential voter on behalf of someone seeking my vote.

The wisdom of the ancients

There is a reason that our vernacular is filled with old adages such as “let sleeping dogs lie” or “beware of self-fulfilling prophecies”.

I think it is because they originate from the sum of many truths in the collective human experience.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,



Curious as to whether the person in my second story still represents the candidate I referred to, I took a look at her LinkedIn profile.



Addendum 2

Shortly after this blog was published, the LinkedIn profile was revised:


Whether the change reflects an actual change in duties or is meant as a deflection technique is irrelevant.  We always have to be cognizant of who represents us and whether anything we say or do alleges to represent someone else.

There is a final irony in that she has asked people to stop bullying her as noted in her final tweet.


The use of social media does not change a basic concept of human interaction:

Respect earned is respect given.

When one instigates a conversation as noted earlier in this blog, one has to expect a strong reaction and cannot subsequently claim to be a victim.  One cannot travel through Life looking for trouble and then complain when trouble arrives.

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