The lesson I learned watching Will Smith in Men in Black

Don’t act like you’ve never sat at home on a lazy Saturday night and given into watching whatever movie was on TV.Tonight I’m watching Men in Black for (I’ll admit it) at least the fifteenth time and, once again, I came to the conclusion that one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Will Smith shows up for MIB traning. During the simulation of a neighborhood under an alien attack the other trainees unleash a shooting frenzy, meanwhile Will Smith holds his fire – until a cardboard cutout of an eight year-old girl rolls out. Here is the quote from IMBD:

[in a shooting range, confronted with numerous menacing-looking targets, Edwards shoots a cardboard little girl]Zed: May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?James Edwards: Well, she was the only one that actually seemed dangerous at the time, sir.Zed: How’d you come to that conclusion?James Edwards: Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light, and I realized, y’know, he’s just working out. I mean, how would I feel if somebody come runnin’ in the gym and bust me in my ass while I’m on the treadmill? Then I saw this snarling beast guy, and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand, and I’m realizing, y’know, he’s not snarling, he’s sneezing. Y’know, ain’t no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany. I’m thinking, y’know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night with quantum physics books? She about to start some shit, Zed. She’s about eight years old, those books are WAY too advanced for her. If you ask me, I’d say she’s up to something. And to be honest, I’d appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it.

The lesson? Just another – perhaps more entertaining – version of the old so-if-so-and-so-jumps-off-a-bridge-would-you-do-it-too-? adage. It’s true for social media where things can get a little out-of-control. How? I’m glad you asked:

  • The guys Will Smith was up against for the MIB opening were Westpoint graduates. One of them actually said they were there because they were “the best of the best of the best!!” Out here, in social media, many legitimate experts will admit that they don’t have all the answers (refer to the last paragraph on this Brogan post), self-proclaimed gurus will tell you that they do and it can get confusing. The best thing you can do is have confidence in what you can do and continue to learn.
  • While the other men were shooting down aliens, Will Smith questioned their assumption of who the bad guy was. In social media, the objective is not always the same. The worst thing you can do is assume that what works for someone else can work for you. The absolute worst thing you can do it open fire before you have determined what it is you’re aiming for.
  • When Zed walked up to him, Will Smith was unapologetic about his decision to shoot little Tiffany in the head. Although social media is rather forgiving to those who are open and honest about their mistakes the truth is that if you can’t back up the decisions you make, you probably had no strategy going in. That’s a big no-no.

More lessons courtesy of Will Smith:

  1. Humor, however cheesy, works.
  2. Taking your job too seriously is the quickest way to becoming frustrated altogether.
  3. More people should make a habit out of breaking rules. Also,buttons that say “don’t touch this button” are meant to be touched.
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