Backstory to “Please Match Your Content With Context”

Shall I risk being a gentleman and offer them a ride? (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

It was early morning in Cape Town. I was driving home after dropping the woman-who-was-not-yet-my-wife at her place of work in the central business district. The road home was all up hill because home was on the side of Signal Hill, a hill on which signal flags were once used to communicate with ships in the bay. That was some time ago, a time when the sailors on those ships would not have understood why I got annoyed with what would have pleased them.

Rush hour stragglers still jammed the road leading into the city. My side of the road was clear, which is why I saw her standing on the sidewalk with her grocery bags. The open road put me in an expansive mood, which is why I stopped to offer her a lift to the top of the hill.

She open the passenger door and said, “Fifty for the basic.” Or words to that effect. I don’t remember. And I don’t remember what I said in reply. I know that I did not respond like the gentleman I felt I was when I took pity on her. I only remember that I fumed (with embarrassment?) all the way home.

(Would I have helped her if I had known she was a prostitute? I like to think so, because my offer was made to someone struggling up a hill, not to a profession.)

Why did I fall for that scam? Here’s why:

  • At the time, prostitution in South Africa was illegal. (It might still be, but it’s none of my business, if you’ll excuse the pun.)
  • I did not expect to see a prostitute on the side of the road. (Nor anywhere else. Because I wasn’t in the market.)
  • It was early in the morning, for Pete’s sake. I did not expect to see a prostitute that time of day. (Nor any other time of day. Or night.)
  • She was carrying groceries. I did not expect to see a prostitute being so normal and homely. (Nor being any other way.)

At first glance she was a woman, not so young and not so old, who was resting before struggling further up the hill with her groceries. In reality, she was a working girl out of context.

And so was her message. Her content was totally out of context. Which is why the prospect (me) she thought she had landed turned out not to be her ideal client.

I have never forgotten the embarrassment of that lesson and have kept my eye on context ever since. No wonder I could not restrain myself when the look-at-me-Facebook mentality infiltrated staid-and-professional LinkedIn. Hence my blog post below, written in 2016.

Please Match Your Content With Context

Is he on a platform or on a stage? (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

Here’s nonsense at work with a warning for me (and you).

I joined LinkedIn in 2004. Back then it was a business networking site. Now it has morphed into yet another social site. Why?

Because we so easily confuse content with context and platform with stage.

If you want to act a part or show off, then use a stage. If you want to build a solid foundation for a concept or a career, then use a platform for support. You know which site is a platform and which one a stage, don’t you?

If you have lots of trivial content aimed at anyone and everyone, then scattering it like sand in the wind makes sense. But if your content has meaning for a focused, like-minded group, then offer it carefully, somewhat like planting seeds in the right soil.

Please match your content with context. If you don’t, all the world becomes a self-indulgent stage.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

Insights to boost your career prospects and job satisfaction while dealing with the nonsense of pleasing a boss, playing nice with colleagues, making subordinates productive, and living a life.

Originally published at https://nonsenseatwork.substack.com.

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James McIntosh

James McIntosh

Born in RSA winelands. Earned 3 degrees drinking red wine. Chased by lioness, ran with elephants, got bored, moved to USA seeking adventure. Ex-CEO now coach.