Yesterday, the rigging for Madonna’s new concert tour collapsed during construction in Marseilles, killing two workers. By any measure, that’s a tragedy. However, given Madonna’s lightning rod persona, that horrific accident has become an excuse to deem her solely responsible by bloggers and commenters who intensely dislike her.
This is an ugly downside of our intensely interconnected modern world. Opinion has a mass channel, and that can work against you with sudden and feverish intensity. On a far less tragic scale, that’s what happened yesterday to Andy Azula of the Martin Agency.
Andy had a really bad day back on June 18th as he tried to fly with his family from Richmond to Atlanta. And it truly was really, really bad: forced to wait all day at the airport with seven year old twins, their luggage held hostage on a broken plane so they couldn’t leave or change flights, making him ultimately miss both a paid speaking gig and a family gathering with the grandparents. It sounded awful. And quite rightly, Andy wrote a letter to Delta angrily recounting his miseries.
But things turned really awful when he posted that letter to his personal blog (he’s since taken it down). In short order, people noticed it and passed it along, eventually to a gossipy insider advertising site with a reputation for fanning the flames of outrage amongst the marketing set. Suddenly, everyone had an opportunity to assess Andy’s complaints and again, those inclined to negativity had a field day, excoriating him for among other things, trying to get the airline’s attention by identifying himself as ‘the UPS whiteboard actor.’ Twice.
It was not Andy’s finest hour. Our most frustrated moments rarely are. And yet, his industry reputation is pretty good; by all accounts, Andy’s long been considered a pretty good guy. Given the legendary Mike Hughes’ low tolerance for jerks, he wouldn’t have his position if that weren’t the case. But Andy had a bad day. And in a fit of pique, made a couple of bad decisions. I’m sure he is currently amazed at just how many people there are in this world and how closely they read his words.
Conventional wisdom says to wait ten minutes and breathe deeply before sending an inflammatory e-mail. We should probably change ‘minutes’ to ‘months’ when it comes to posting anything similar on the web (those drinking photos on Facebook, that outraged review on Amazon, etc.).
If you wouldn’t want your Mom or boss to see it, don’t post it. Because they will. And so will everyone else.
by Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79