Once upon a time a falling acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. This startled the bird so much that she immediately embarked on a crusade to spread the news (misinformation) that the sky was falling. Spreading misinformation is not only a topic for fables, but has a long factual history.
The expression, “get off your soap box,” dates back to 1872, when speakers, who assembled at London’s Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner, would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate used for shipment of soap or other dry goods.
Disseminating misinformation is not new. What is new is the range and scope of the internet and the ability of speakers to reach a large audience from the comfort and anonymity of a private location.
Without getting into the motives of the disseminators of misinformation, it is important for investors to be very careful and understand the sources of information that are almost impossible to completely avoid. Not only are we subjected to the rants of anyone who chooses to express their opinions through social media, etc., so called news has become editorialized to the point where it is difficult to be certain about what is actually happening. Watching CNN and FOX side by side makes one wonder if they are reporting on the same country. All of this makes it easier to be misled and react by taking actions that might be contrary to your long-term objectives.
In addition to the problems relating to sorting fact from fiction, there is a lot going on that is truly scary, perhaps led by Covid-19. In this environment, it is particularly important to think things through carefully before taking precipitous action. Many of us are spending considerably less time with others, leading to a reduction in social and business discourse. Talking to yourself is probably not the best way to make important decisions. Before taking any action it might be constructive to discuss your concerns with your advisor(s) to review your long-term objectives.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA