The Great Divide – Keeping Your Edge

Question:  Where do you get your broadcast news?  From a US perspective, the majority of agents might name one of the BIG 3, which are FOX, CNN and MSNBC.

Additonally, by answering that question one might also formulate an opinion on your political stance.  Fox may align you with the Republicans (the “right”), MSNBC with the Democrats (“the left”), and throwing a wrench into the works, CNN which in previous years might have been considered moderate or undeclared, would these days also be placed firmly on the Democratic left.

Be it the New York Post, the New York Daily News, or the Wall Street Journal, our print news could also allow for similar conclusions to be drawn.  In the past, those would be passive conclusions; a person sitting next to you on the subway could observe what you were reading, or you visited a friends and there was a certain station their parents tv was always tuned to.  However, in this new era that we are in, the consumption of news is no longer a passive act, but an active one.  Media is not just digested, but regurgitated and rebroadcast to any within our social circles.

In many cases this occurs with such frequency that it not only paints a part of the picture of the individual, it becomes the entire painting.  In fairness or not, the act of retransmitting news media can be interpreted as an endorsement of the totality of the views.  Adding an additional layer, readers/viewers are allowed to engage and interact with the news in ways that far surpass the past.  Gone are the days where you could agree or disagree with a newsperson and have to mail a letter into the editor in the hopes that it would be read, and in extremely small cases, reprinted.

Now with just a few motions of the thumb we can become our own anchormen and women, summing up stories, and re-presenting them to best fit our needs.  This era has even given rise to the word “Fake News,” that can mean two diametrically opposite things depending on what side of the political spectrum you stand on.

With social media we can now amplify the positions of others, and usually do so in a way that reinforces our personal viewpoints.  With that said, why do I think this is an important enough subject to devote an entire column of Keeping Your Edge to?  Surely there are more relevant topics in the world of Close Protection.  I mean, we could be talking about cover and evacuation drills, or the best ways to field strip a weapon, but instead I’m devoting precious space to discussing, “likes” and “shares,” of news articles on social media.  What’s that got to do with Protection?

The answer to this comes in the form of wishing to stay true to one of my missions, which is to pay it forward by alerting others to potential pitfalls in the industry, so there is a frame of reference they can call back on when making decisions.  In this case the decision is whether to post, or repost news, which by the very nature of the society we are in today, causes others to take a political stance and draw a line in the sand of support or opposition.  The byproduct of this, is that opportunities that you never knew could be yours, can evaporate overnight because the perception of your position removes you as a candidate for a work opportunity.  Now is this fair?  No.  Would the decision maker admit it, if confronted?  Perhaps.

In many cases, the hiring manager, detail leader or agency owner isn’t coming from a place of their own biases, but thinking about their clients, and asking themselves, can I put an agent who is LEFT with a client that is RIGHT?  Now the textbook answer should be, yes.  Protectors are impartial, and just there to do the job, not insert their personal opinions or viewpoints.  However the reality is different, because as illustrated above, the picture painted due to the amplification of political (and in some cases socioeconomical) positions takes over, and that’s all the decision makes sees.  Therefore, they just assume they will limit the risk by removing you from selection.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you that you shouldn’t have political views or opinions.  I am also not telling you that you shouldn’t share, like, or comment on news stories or articles if they come from a certain organization or another.  Instead, I am saying that we as protectors have to be aware of the potential ramifications of those actions, even if delivered with the best intent.  As such, it stands to reason that those that are more established have more flexibility to voice their opinions and take more potentially polarizing stances.  However, newer agents should be especially cautious, as they might not be able to weather the financial drought that could accompany the decision.  In any case, all agents should consider the big picture and realize that the things we do live beyond the moment.

The Great Divide – Keeping Your EdgeBy Elijah Shaw

Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and the CEO of ICON Global, and International Executive Protection Consulting Firm.  Elijah, who has been featured in international publications such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Portfolio, runs the ICON Academy, an EP Training Program specializing in Celebrity & VIP Protection.  He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Executive Security International (ESI), the United States oldest Executive Protection Training School.   His new book, An Introduction to Executive Protection & Touring:  A Guide to Mastering the Business of VIP Security, hit the Amazon best sellers list, and available now. 


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