I’ve had two lucks. The first is growing up alongside the internet and social media, slowly getting accustomed to them as I got older. I wasn’t dropped onto it as a teen or young adult. My parents were thankfully wise and farseeing. The second is choosing to study communication and then marketing, which gives me a vantage point when it comes to understanding certain… Alien behaviours. So, I thought I’d try and give miss Georgina Young an answer to this article from that PoV, and the answer is:
It’s not just gaming. It’s the world that has a PR problem when it comes to social media.
Believe me, it’s not gaming figures only who have this problem. In all industries and sectors at all levels, everyday, there are people making asses out of themselves on social media. On personal and corporate accounts, either because of shortsightedness or just plain idiocy. I have a professor who has a blog updated almost weekly with such blunders. He filled a 300 pages book in two years with them.
Let me give you two examples. The first happened with Starbucks on June the 5th 2012, when the Irish account of the company asked its followers to show them what made them proud to be British. Anyone who knows some basic geography knows Ireland is not in the UK. And anyone who knows either Ireland’s or UK’s history knows that, ehm, they haven’t always been exactly on the best of terms. So you can imagine what the reaction to this was.
The second example is just plain hubris. Il Sole 24 Ore is Italy’s principal economic newspaper. On the October the 29th 2012 one freelance journalists uses Twitter to tag in one of the accounts to signal a link. The account manager, a journalist, believes this means that the man hijacked the account. And when the freelance and another user try to explain how Twitter works, she answers back with unwarranted venom and summoning the shadow of legal action for libel.
I could go on for days citing cases of people mishandling Social Media, making mistakes or just acting like Twitter and Facebook give you carte blanche to be an ass just because. But now, we have to ask, why do people act like this? When it comes to Starbucks-like situations, it’s simply distraction, ignorance or shortsightedness. No much mystery there. It’s more interesting to ask ourselves why people feel like they can be the worst human beings possible on Twitter.
I see mainly two reasons for this: first is the matter of your position. Even the smallest amount of power can go to your head. I’ve seen more than one case where people have tried dismissing any and all criticism directed at them because of past achievements or just the number of followers on Twitter. Second is that social media are so called because even if the tools and channels are different, internet interactions work the same as real life ones. It’s scientifically proven.
Just because there’s a computer and no face to face interaction doesn’t mean that words lose their effect. It doesn’t mean that people behind the screen disappear or are magically insulated by insults, nor should they be forced to stop using social media because some subhuman people forget that. Online harassment is a thing. It’s not being shown facts, statistics and criticism as some people would like you to believe -COUGHSarkeesianCOUGH-, but using a keyboard to communicate doesn’t turn off the emotional component of people. Words can hurt. A lot. No matter the medium.
But there seems to be a rather widespread opinion that somehow being on the internet or social media, EVEN while using your real name, insulates you from any criticism AND allows you to forgo the normal pillars of human decency and politeness we use in everyday life to become a frankenstein monster of bile and rage. Especially if you occupy a position or responsibility, and even more if you have a certain amount of leeway in swaying people’s opinions.
Now, the next question is: how does such a person come into being? Well, in a few ways. But I will leave discussing those for the next blog post, where we will discuss the Hugbox Effect. My roommate for the night demands my attention. MK out.