The two videos above are “1979” and “Perfect” from the Smashing Pumpkins in “1979,” it tells a story of the innocence of youth and the carefree style you enjoy as a teenager. “Perfect was the sequel to “1979” that tells the story of the same teenagers coming to adulthood and realizing they’re in actuality. This is where social media is at.
What makes something viral is if it has a huge emotional attachment to an audience for rational (or irrational) reason(s). What we do not realize is it has consequences not only for the guilty party, but for ourselves.
Let’s look at three examples.
If you don’t know the Lindsey Stone case, she posted a photo on her Facebook profile “mocking” the “Silence and Respect” sign at the Arlington Cemetery. Some of her Facebook friends saw it, but their friends saw it as well and spread it to protest and demand consequences. As a result, Lindsey and her supervisor were fired by LIFE. We all know her actions in the photo was offensive, but what people are not talking, and the most offensive, is what was her thought process of taking a photo that we know is offensive and post it on Facebook, knowing it could go viral?
Then there’s the Cathryn Sloane post, “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25,” While the majority (including myself) disagree with the post, the backlash became out of control on both sides. On Cathryn’s side, she should have written a follow-up of why she thought this way, not her editor. As for the comments, who are mostly marketing experts or “experts”, they just laid it on to Cathryn and even trying to give her lessons. From the looks of it, Cathryn seems to have rebounded into a nice marketing job, albeit not a manager.
Finally, there’s the 2-for-1 special with ESPN’s headline “Chink in the Armor” earlier this year with Jeremy Lin. The first instance was an ESPN.com headline, that read, “chink in the armor” and that spread immediately. Then anchor, Max Bretos, mention the saying during a live broadcast. As a result, the ESPN editor, Anthony Federico, was fired because there was a thought process of writing and putting the headline out, and Bretos was suspended 30 days because it was reactionary.
All three went viral because it cause an emotional reaction to an audience. Although their actions were mostly bad, we can defend them at certain points. The problem is with our own biases that most we see is black or white but in reality, it’s mostly gray. If you read these stories and their comments, they mostly attack the action, but don’t attack the thought process. To me, the thought process determines if there was intent to be offensive. In Lindsey, Cathryn, and Anthony cases, the perception was there to be intentional, if they like it or not, but it doesn’t mean they’re bad people, they didn’t think it through.
It is alright to have biases in your workplace, you have to communicate and compromise what is expected for you and the company you’re with. No one’s right or wrong, you have to test it out to see if it works or not. I’ll end this with the video I hope goes viral from Jonathan Rauch about being offended: