Stuart Ballan
Businessman, dad, published author, cyclist

How I voted twice, today

Until very recently, the most powerful controlled the masses, and the journalists controlled what the masses thought. Worldwide events, good and bad, could be selectively reported. Or not.

More recently, technology has levelled the playing field slightly, with forensics, voice and video recording, capturing the past, to be used for judgement in the future.

The power of Social Media

Yet it’s the rapid evolution of social media, leaning on the infrastructure of fast, global communications, and the unlimited capability of the majority to capture (photo, video, text) and publish, that’s enabled us all to be journalists.

It’s not only changed the world, but also how we must behave in it.

In just 10 years, Facebook (and it’s close “friend”, Twitter) has grown from showing newborn Johnny with the cord still attached, to severing the cords that held governments together. In just 28 days, triggered by an individual fruit seller in a small town south of Tunis, the mighty Tunisian President was brought down after 23 years of rule. Not by arming the people, nor by assassinating the President. Record, write, publish, share. The disenfranchised public discovered that the internet revolution, powered by social media, could tip the balance of power in their favour. It didn’t take long for Egypt, and more, to follow, and the world was changed forever. (Watch How FaceBook Changed The World The Arab Spring)

Everyone’s right to free speech has developed into everyone’s capability for free speech.

The power of the Hashtag

John Oliver, the British presenter of the weekly “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” satirical news show, (HBO), has in less than a year, unashamedly confronted controversial and unspoken (or not heard) issues related to tobacco companies, beauty contents, the pharmaceutical industry, net neutrality, the FCC, and the NBA. Able to openly compare Fanta to the Nazi regime, he boasts a free reign to criticize corporations, given HBO’s ad-free subscription model. In less than a year, he’s become a master of using social media as a call to action. A weekly hashtag from John Oliver makes things happen around the world.

Getting to the point, pronto

We had a very enjoyable evening at Pronto restaurant, Tel-Aviv, on 27th December. I think I chose the Lamb Pappardella.

Do you know that feeling when you bite into the food and a small, pointed piece of bone, that shouldn’t have been there, gives you a sharp pain, deep into your teeth? Ever also removed the offending shrapnel from your mouth, and quietly thrown it under the table, so as not to interrupt the conversation?

The serious damage only became apparent over the next weeks. I’ll spare you the details. With a course of antibiotics behind me, and 2 more months of treatment ahead, earlier this week, I was blessed with a bill for NIS 6,012. In pain, and with fresh stitches for lunch, I called the restaurant, to bring the matter to their attention.

Just 5 minutes later, Rafael (Rafi) Adar, the owner called me back. Impressive, so far. After listening to some of what happened, he suggested “I think you should go and find love”. Having confirmed he didn’t believe anything happened at his restaurant, he labeled me a “sad person”, and put the phone down.

Should I have called him earlier? In retrospect, probably. But it took a while before the damage became apparent.

Even though insurance would have been helpful, Rafi, I don’t need your money. I was calling you to bring to your attention an undesirable incident that did take place at your restaurant on 27th December. I expected you to be concerned, to be either genuinely or at least superficially apologetic, and not only to listen to my story, but to want to. I expected you’d want to dig deeper into the facts to find out if you have or had a problem in your kitchen, so you could reduce the chances of it happening again.

But what I did not expect from you was an attitude of self-importance, for you to dare judge me, to verbally attack me, and to put the phone down on me.

I told you on the phone that I have enough emails and Whatsapp messages with friends, dating back over an extended period, referring to my experience at your restaurant, to put any doubt about what happened out of reach. But you had probably stopped listening by then. You were probably already thinking of your “pre-click” finale sentence.

Rafi, you could have invited me to your restaurant to hear first hand what happened, so you could have made a better informed decision on how to deal with a problem in your kitchen. An apology, in any form, would have gone a long way. A gesture of a complimentary meal would have been appreciated, but I would have most likely respectfully declined, given my past experience.

We can learn from the disenfranchised people of Tunisia, who voted with social media and made a difference that is now written in stone in history.

For those who today live in a past age, hiding behind self importance, disrespect to their customers, verbally slapping people around because they used to, and think they still can, your secrets and behaviour are no longer safe, nor protected. Social media will enable adjustments.

Writing this on Israeli election day, as soon as this article is published, will I be the only person who voted twice today?




About the Author
Originally from England, Stuart Ballan moved to Israel in 1997. He has over 25 years business and B2B sales experience working in companies of every size, including his own. Stuart holds an MBA from the Kellogg-Recanati Executive MBA program and was the President of the Kellogg-Recanati Alumni Club from 2002 to 2012. He's dad to 2 great adult kids, and is the author of 2 children's books, with his first book selling 10,000 copies, here in Israel. He's also a keen off-road cyclist.
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