My name’s Paul Woodhouse and I used to be a boy scout – there, I’ve said it.
During this formative part of my teenage years wearing garters and neckerchiefs that could double as an emergency sling, I can honestly say I have no idea what I truly learned.
I do recall a weekend senior patrol leaders’ camp where the area’s finest got together and did the big boy’s scouting stuff. Now these were the best of the best – those who had no further badges to acquire and led legions of other scouts in harvest parades and other such important codswallop.
We had very little to learn other than how to spend a weekend in October in the woods without food or shelter. We were taught how to bivouac, how to kill, how to skin your kill, how to get back to camp after being blindfolded and cast into the middle of nowhere during the night and other useful skills that stand me in good stead today as a search engine marketer.
After a couple of days of this type of activity we were split into two groups and told to fend for ourselves with nothing but the forest for refuge. Fortunately, they’d devised a little orienteering exercise that allowed us to find little furry rabbits that they’d bought from the butcher earlier in the day as opposed to us strangling the little fellas with our bare hands. Although for me I felt no sentiment considering I never cried during a screening of Watership Down when I was nine. I could smell blood in my nostrils – probably due to a nosebleed, but still.
Both groups set up camp: one up river and the other down. Both groups managed to throw some kind of a shelter together and both found their respective pre-skinned bunnies fairly easily. I was quite happy to take on our skinning duties and remember ripping the fur from the flesh and the rabbit’s little jewels floating merrily down the stream.
I’ve no idea whether it tasted remotely pleasant, but I remember quite a decent night’s sleep punctuated by our handlers returning and telling us we had to leave as the other group had been taken to hospital with acute food poisoning. It hadn’t taken our scout leaders too long to work out that they had set up camp below a raw sewerage pipe and that they must’ve prepared their evening meal with that water.
Ooh…pass me a rhododendron leaf, chief.
Now we’d been shown the ways of the wild by experienced handlers, had quite a bit of camping and outdoor living experience and were mostly around the age of fifteen.
And we still managed to get half our group hospitalized.
So, I’d hate to think how a group of forty kids from various backgrounds and ages would cope having to create their own utopia in some “western town in the desert”.
It beggars belief that children as young as eight are part of a great TV experiment. Then again, we all know that the premise of Kid Nation isn’t actually what is playing out. We know it’s probably a specially constructed little town just outside Hollywood or something and that there are more psychologists, carers and handlers on hand than on your average psychiatric ward. The program can only afford the pretence of authenticity. If it was truly authentic we should all be picketing CBS.As entertaining as Kid Nation might be, it will never be truly authentic. And authenticity is one of the key core values you must try to aim for when blogging your business. Yes, be entertaining; but actually presenting your business authentically is a surefire way of differentiating yourself from your competition online – even if your competition is blogging themselves. The idea is not to present yourself as you’d like to be seen but as you are seen.
Online is not an opportunity to pull the wool over customers’ eyes.
Authenticity holds the hand of transparency like a newlywed wife holds that of her husband. And the other new program that aired last night pretending to offer both was Kitchen Nightmares with good old Gordon Ramsey.
Gordon goes into failing or troubled restaurants and basically troubleshoots the business. Last night involved some family owned Italian restaurant that fed into every single New York Italian stereotype that ever existed. It’s extremely brave for businesses to expose themselves to national TV scrutiny. Can there be anything worse than to see a kitchen in a restaurant that has food stored in it bordering on the rancid?
Now Kitchen Nightmares relies exclusively on Gordon Ramsey’s brand to save the business. The best the business can actually do is promise to follow Gordon’s guidelines to the best of their ability. Subsequently, if we trust in Gordon’s ability to save the restaurant, no matter how horrid, and his redemption is accepted then all is presented as being well. I’d like to say I would never eat there, but I may try it the once; and I’d still be rather suspicious.
We all know restaurant horror stories and have seen the occasional nasty kitchen, but we’ve still eaten there. However, we may not eat there as often as we used to or as often as the restaurant might want.A restaurant blog carrying on the transparent angle that Kitchen Nightmares opened so wide would be an excellent way to plot the progress of the restaurant and overcome any reticence or animosity from potential or existing customers. It could also serve as an excellent vehicle to provide customer feedback and reviews allowing comparisons between the pre and post-Gordon restaurant.
Yes, I have the restaurant in my mind, but I think of it as that place with the lunatic Italian poseur of an owner that had a nasty kitchen and couldn’t care less about what it served. Now Gordon looked like he changed that, but for how long? I’m willing to give a small benefit of the doubt to believe the change is authentic, but I need some kind of further transparency through something as simple as a business blog to ensure its authenticity continues for quite some time.
Otherwise, I’d rather take my chances and dine rabbit a la sewer pipe cooked by an eight-year-old on ritalin.