Today’s guest post about social media comes to us from John Johnston of Ballistic Radio fame. He offers some insight and also has a perfect face for radio. -Mad Duo
[This article was brought to you by JTF Awesome member Daniel Defense. In case you have been living in a cave or communist country: they’re the semi-subtle-yet-totally-baller AR manufacturer that the free world knows and loves]
Firearms, Tactics, and Social Media Likes
by John Johnston
“…While the worse, are full of passionate intensity.” – William Butler Yeats
Hi, I’m John Johnston, and I sell firearms and firearms accessories (see what I did there?). I do some other things too, like running a nationally syndicated talk radio show that focuses on self-defense. I like training my oversized ass off with some of the absolute best people in the industry, product testing and consulting, aka “getting paid to have my opinion ignored.” Recently I even dipped my toe into the professional training arena with the release of the “Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian” curriculum Melody Lauer and I developed (spots available now, if you’d like to tell me I’m an ass in person). On top of all those things I also run a little Facebook page that, at the time I’m writing this, has 260,000+ followers and averages a seven figure reach each month. I’m kind of a big deal, if you judge such things by the hollow standards of the number of interactions with strangers you have each day online.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about something industry-related that many squared away people, especially those who have spent any time with me in person, already know. But it still might be of some interest to you. Wait for it…
The number of likes/subscribers/followers someone has does not make them an “expert” at anything. At best, a large social media following indicates a shrewd business mind coupled with a keen understanding of marketing and psychology. At worst it indicates a position burning so brightly with ignorance and derp that fools cannot help being drawn to it like flies to shit. I know, I just flew my X-wing deep into your Death Star and blew it the fuck up with that particular Proton Torpedo of knowledge, but stay with me a bit longer.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect happens when people are so inept that they assess themselves as knowledgeable, while the truly capable often under assess their own knowledge. The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger Club is that you don’t know you’re in the Dunning-Kruger Club. The issue is magnified by the fact that as more and more people begin asking for your opinion, it becomes more and more difficult not to offer it, whether you should or not. Additionally, the larger the number of people who value your opinion becomes, especially if you’re prone to arrogance (guilty), the harder it is to stop and say “I might be wrong”. It’s an internally initiated appeal to authority that is very difficult to spot unless you’re looking for it, and even then it’s easy to miss.
It’s a trap!
Unfortunately, the most successful traps are often those we set for ourselves without knowing any better.
Personally, and I’m trying not to speak ill of any one in particular here, the only thing that’s saved me from being the very thing I’m talking about was the influence of some incredibly knowledgeable people very early on in my career. I suppose you can have an unchecked ego around the likes of Tom Givens, Craig Douglas, Todd Green, Pat Rogers, Bob Vogel, Chuck Haggard, William Aprill, et al, I mean, anything is possible, but that takes a bigger fool than me, which is a pretty big damn fool indeed.
This issue becomes further exacerbated when someone who is incredibly knowledgeable in multiple fields weighs in on subject matter they have limited knowledge of/experience with. None of us *like* to acknowledge our weak areas, especially in front of peers, especially when we feel it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Example: “Clearly it is VITAL that I offer my opinion on this suddenly timely topic, gotta stay relevant after all. Whether or not I have put any work into developing my opinion past the knee jerk reaction stage is entirely besides the point.” See? Another easy trap to fall into, and one that is responsible for otherwise good people passing along a lot of really awful information.
So, what should you look for? People who can clearly articulate not only the context where what they’re promoting is useful, but also the why behind whatever it is they’re promoting. If they’re trying to sell you something, and most people are but don’t bother to disclose their industry affiliations (free shit counts too) as required by law, then maybe you should look for other sources of information. Do they acknowledge the work that others have done in their chosen field? Do they credit the sources of the information they’re repeating? There are very few new ideas after all. Do they show you or discuss their own personal failures? Can they defend their positions without resorting to https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com as an example of how to convince people of the merits of their argument?
As further, and final, evidence of how “likes” alone are not a measure of expertise, I need only point to myself as an example. Ballistic Radio, the page that I run for my radio show, has more than a quarter million fans. American Warrior Society, the page that Mike Seeklander runs for his podcast, has less than five thousand fans. I am not, never have been, and probably never will be anywhere near as capable or knowledgeable as Mike. Yet, if we were to judge based off of “likes” alone, it wouldn’t even be a contest, and that’s a fucking crime.
Learn to be a critical thinker. Learn to ask why. Learn to demand a higher standard. Most importantly, learn what good actually looks/sounds like. I’ll give you a hint, it rarely gets the attention it deserves. And it’s even rarer still to see good specifically LOOKING for attention for attention’s sake alone.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
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About the Author: John Johnston is a Rangemaster-certified Advanced Handgun Instructor, certified VCQB Instructor, and has completed 1,200+ hours of private instruction. Additionally, John works as an industry consultant, and as the host of Ballistic Radio–a nationally syndicated radio show focusing on the topic of self-defense. He is also the owner of Citizens Defense Research, a training company focused solely on developing solutions for civilian self-defense issues. He claims to have never been anywhere or done anything, cool, unless you count that one time he called two nukes in during a particularly sporty night of Modern Warfare 2, or some nerdery during Dungeons & Dragons.
More about Daniel Defense: Chances are that if you’re reading this page, you’re at least familiar with AR-15’s. Most all of us here at BreachBangClear have carried AR’s or M4’s in professional capacities the world over, and we’ve even managed to learn a thing or two about guns along the way. We won’t sell you a line of shit–Daniel Defense is definitely a go-to manufacturer for us and has been for a long time. It’s easy to go cheaper (note that we didn’t use the term ‘inexpensive’) but much harder to do better. We are proud and enthused to have them in JTF Awesome, and it’s through JTF Awesome we make this all possible. Read about our exploits with them at SHOT Show, be sure to visit their homepage here, and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram.
BOOM! Drop the microphone…
Best way to learn– listen to BR and subscribe to AWS. The more perspectives you get in your training the better you understand different contexts, and the more you learn.
As the student evolves into the teacher, remember it’s always OK to stay in your lane and say “I don’t know (but I’ll look into it)”. The best teachers will be willing to say that in front of their students.
Jayne Cobb called. He want’s his hat back.
If he wants it, he can come and get it… 😉
Two things that caught my attention and what I want to comment on.
First the fact that companies want “opinions” and “T&E” on their product like they want a third nipple. Sure it might sound semi erotic but at the end of the day they don’t really care what you think, what you want, what the end user wants, what anyone wants or even needs other than what they want to do with their/that particular product. This is reinforced by the fact there are certain products out in the limelight right now (coughsidecarcough) that people buy because its the “in” thing to have because of said likes and said perceived media stature but in reality its complete and utter junk. People have pointed this out several times and has it changed? Will it change? I won’t be holding my breath.
Second, when you have certain sites, people or companies that shamelessly use others hard work through either development, experience, etc and never credit them. Even worse they go on to talk about a certain item or concept that they did not think of and just stole from someone. What is even worse than that is when people take product and go out of their way to give their input on it (like some self-labeled SME’s) while having no real experience with it other than some sort of unboxing and twenty minutes on a square range video that they spam everywhere they can.
Likes =/= knowledge for sure and more people need to understand the difference between popularity and capability.