Dissecting A Viral Hoax II: Bill Cosby’s “I’m 83 and Tired”
By N Mark Castro
The impact of Reputation Risk event can be even more damaging than traditional risks and it can take companies and personalities years to rebuild deteriorated reputations: think of Lance Armstrong.
A lot of organizations, celebrities, and politicians tend to ignore or put little value to it until it’s often too late. Why?
- There is a tendency from “difficult-to-value intangible assets” making investor perceptions less relevant at the onset yet more important in the long run;
And yet, if you whittle it down, all the risk factors are evident:
- The communications revolution makes information immediately and widely available;
- More complex supply chains that use outsourcing increase the risk of damage to reputation by third party actions;
- There are changing public expectations of companies, and more active and sophisticated advocacy organizations have greater influence on business decision making.
Harvard Business Review can provide all the sound theoretical models applicable yet, sound as it may be, the parameters are still limited in the same way that spreadsheet executives miserably failed in reconciling data gathered from satellites, technological communications devices, and exit interviews from defecting officials when they submitted without doubt the ghostly Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq.
It’s still one of the best case studies how America bungled up its reputation when it couldn’t reconcile what buttoned-up suits produced with what field pawns discovered.
To simplify the above discourse in terms a 17 yo communications student can understand, it would be like:
Girl, they can always Tweet bad stuff about you, whatcha gonna do ’bout it?
Duh, before they do that, I’d be Tweeting better stuff about me, drag my girlfriends to Tweet more good stuff about me, that way, even if somethin’-somethin’ comes up, I’m all good.
And this is where the mastery on the art of communications of Bill Cosby is well displayed. When the infamous “I’m 83 And Tired” went viral for years, the following occured:
- Nobody believed it to be him
- Nobody even hated him … because nobody believed it to be him
One version of this message says Bill Cosby is 76; another says he’s 83. In September 2011 when the text first came to be attributed to him, Cosby was only 74 years old. Obviously, Bill Cosby knows how old he is. Obviously, he did not write this essay (see Cosby’s statement below).
The sole and actual author (excluding the anonymous perpetrators of various revised versions over time) was former Massachusetts state senator Robert A. Hall, who published the original document on his personal blog on Feb. 19, 2009.
Prior to being falsely attributed to Bill Cosby, a variant of Hall’s post was incorrectly credited to actor Robert David Hall of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Yet Bill Cosby decided to address the issue, further cementing his take and control of his Reputation which he has built over the years.
If you got the BOGUS email, it’s time to hit DELETE!
There’s an email floating around — entitled “I’m 76 and tired” — purportedly sent by me. I did not write the email, I did not send the email, I’m not 76, and I don’t subscribe to the ugly views expressed in the email. We are coming up to an important anniversary on Sunday, which is a day when we should all come together. Whoever wrote this email is not thinking about our country, or what is important. If you get the email, it’s time to hit DELETE.
Hoaxes will continue to proliferate, especially with newer mediums and wider platforms, and those who subscribe to it are also the same people you get to sway easily. These are the same people whose emotions are controlled by their environment: happy when their partners do what they want, angry when provoked by others, and hopeful when promised with the words “I love you.” You can easily spot the subservient ones, the angry ones, the stuck-up ones, clinging to every word and breath that stimuli their limited thought-process.
They’re the ones that vote for Change instead of being the Change.