The first headline that popped up on my MSNBC news feed yesterday concerned the nasty ass response Kelly Blazek, a woman named "Communicator of the Year", gave to an applicant on a job bank run by Blazek. When Blazek's response went viral, others came forward to say they had been treated the same way by Blazek.
In today's environment, nearly everything you say or do or type is recorded. It's simply the nature of the Information Age. The problems occurring today are no longer those of twenty-somethings posting pictures from the bong party they went to over the weekend. (Though you should watch what photos you post on Facebook.)
Now, we're seeing issues of people not thinking about the consequences of their actions, and those consequences come back to bite them on the ass.
Blazek's response to a young job-seeker was through LinkedIn, a social media site specifically for professionals. It was bad enough that the Cleveland newspaper, The Plain Dealer, picked up the story. Even worse was CNN and NBC. According to CNN, the backlash against Blazek was so bad she apparently deleted her Twitter account and her blog.
The last few weeks seem to be rife with people sticking their feet, or in the case of uber-agent Donald Maass their hoof, into their mouths. (Really, an agent shouldn't refer to writers as cattle to be culled.)
British author Lynn Shepard's first mistake in a Huffington Post UK essay was dissing beloved Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling. Shepard's second mistake was insulting adults who read the Harry Potter books. You know, adults? The ones with the money to buy Shepard's books?
The backlash was immediate and fierce. Over fifty one-star reviews appeared on Amazon US for Shepard's latest book, The Solitary House. Nor was she spared on the book fan/review site Goodreads.
Last year's negative publicity for self-publishing distributor Autharium had already died down when the director of the company, Matt Bradbeer, stirred it up again by filing a DMCA take down against popular publishing blog The Passive Voice. Now, not only are the new articles at the top of the various search engines, the old articles are back up there, too.
Then there's Sean Fodera, a contracts attorney with publisher Macmillan, who made the mistake of dissing one of Macmillan's authors on a public forum. When the story spread across the internet, Fodera made matters worse when he threatened to sue anyone who linked to the story.
So what can you take from all of this?
1) Watch what you say on the internet. Never post or tweet while angry or upset.
2) Treat others with respect. If you can't, go back to Tip #1.
3) Learn when and how to disengage. Sometimes, it's not worth the fight. There's an old saying, "Never wrestle a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it."
4) There are competing opinions and there are trolls. Know the difference.
5) If it's not something you would say to someone in real life, you probably shouldn't say it online.
And most of all, remember the internet is forever!
If you have any additional tips, I'd love to hear them.