I blog. I blog a lot. Sometimes I have my serious hat on, sometimes I try to be funny, and sometimes, I try to be pithy. My pithiness got me some notoriety of late that should serve as a lesson to those of us out there who like to blog. I would have written about this earlier, but realized that arm surgery is equivalent to having your online jaw wired shut.
Mark Messes Up
Way back in June, a bunch of friends of mine sent me an MSNBC.com article entitled “Beware of social networking overload.” I must have felt overloaded with the number of times it was sent to me, because I fired off a blog posting about the article, “Social media overload? MSNBC and sloppy journalism,” in which Eve Tahmincioglu, postulated that many people are, indeed feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of social networking sites. And in what is one of the worst insults that you can sling at a serious journalist, I called the piece “sloppy.” Nice work, Mark.
And to add fuel to the fire, yours truly, in a huff, rudely dismissed the notion of social networking overload, pointing out sites like FriendFeed that can put it all in once place.
Mark Gets Busted
Almost immediately, I got comments on my posting from my regular blog readers, including Media Bullseye’s own Jen Zingsheim, who pointed out that not everyone lives in my world – the volume of social networking site CAN indeed make one feel overwhelmed. Jen’s best line of her comment was “It’s daunting to the under-initiated.”
On September 5, I heard from the article’s author, Eve Tahmincioglu, who in a rational, reasoned comment, explained her thinking and told me that she does not like her work being called “sloppy.” Eve also politely pointed out:
“I have gotten tons of emails from people who believe they need to have hundreds of friends on every site out there and the thought of it is driving them crazy. The bottom line is they don’t.”
Then I had one of those moments in which I realized that just because I have my own little corner of cyberspace, it does not entitle me in any way to say things that are cruel and undeserved.
That morning, when I read Eve’s polite posting, I realized that I HAD been a real jerk, found Eve’s email, sent her a note, apologized, and promised to make things right. So I wrote a follow-up posting “I Was Wrong. Sorry, Eve.” I still felt like a jerk, but Eve graciously accepted my apology and even wrote a follow up piece of her own on MSNBC.com about online reputation management in which she recanted our exchange. I thought that it was over.
I’m in the New York Times?!?!?
Marci Alboher of the New York Times “Shifting Careers” section found our exchange and wrote about it as well in her own post, “Setting the Record Straight Online.” Marci factually and also politely noted:
“Ever feel like the emphasis on social networking is getting out of control? Ever worry about how you’d restore your reputation if someone wrote bad things about you online?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you’ll be interested in this online communications tale involving one of my favorite fellow workplace bloggers, Eve Tahmincioglu.”
I always wanted my writing to appear in the New York Times, but not for being a know-it-all, flippant jerk. So my take-aways from this for my fellow bloggers are:
1. Just because you have your own publishing platform and your cyberspace kingdom, it doesn’t make you an expert in everything. Your opinion is just that – opinion.
2. There are real people who write real articles and real blog posts. And they take professional pride in their work as well. Read your post a couple of times before you publish.
3. If and when you say something stupid – like I did – do the right thing, immediately – and apologize publicly. If the world can hear you be flippant, the world can also sit by and watch you eat crow.
4. Sometimes, especially when dealing with very levelheaded and reasonable people like Eve Tahmincioglu and Marci Alboher, if you apologize and are sincere, you will most likely be forgiven.
Bringing it Home
I would be remiss if I did not mention in this article my sadness that Sarah Wurrey is leaving Media Bullseye for the bright lights and hot air of Washington, DC. Sarah has been a pleasure to work with at MB, and fun to listen to in Shel Holtz’s and Neville Hobson’s “For Immediate Release.” I’m just lucky she’s going to be in my ‘hood.
Best of luck to you, Sarah – although anyone who knows you knows that you won’t need it.
Mark Story is a part-time, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a full-time communications professional at a government agency in Washington, D.C and writes the “Intersection of Online and Offline” blog. Prior to the government, Mark worked for 12 years in some of the largest online public relations shops in the world. Tweet him at mstory123.