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You can’t take back nastiness, be civil online

January 16, 2014 - Art Smith
It continues to shock me how stupid some people are when they leave comments online. People really need to think before they click the post button.

I’m not talking about anonymous comments left on stories all over the web. Although they are frequently nasty, they normally do not have all that much of a readership.

My vent today is about people that post false things for thousands, or even millions of people to read in 140 characters or less.

Twitter seems to be the platform of choice to be snarky and condescending.

There have been a couple of recent high profile examples recently.

The Detroit Free Press’ Zlati Meyers made a “joke” on Twitter that now that West Virginia had the water issue under control, it could work on their “incest problem.”

The post, rightly so, caused uproar on Twitter. Some 300,000 people in the West Virginia spent the better part of a week without water. Understandably they were not in a very good mood when a reporter from the Utopia that is Detroit thought it was a good time to take a swing at them.

The rest of the Twittersphere did not take kindly to it either. The post was removed fairly quickly and the editor of the newspaper apologized. She apologized several times online and people began using the hashtag #hasZlaitLandedYet.

That hashtag is in reference to the last time someone with a large voice said something that enraged a large group of people with just a few words, when a PR executive traveling to South Africa tweeted she hoped she didn’t get A.I.D.S. Justine Sacco sent the tweet before boarding a flight to Africa. The uproar over her comments beat her to the country. By the time she landed, she was without a job.

It’s easy to be nasty online. You type a few sentences hit post and move on to the next thing. It takes a few seconds. You can do it from your phone, your tablet and your desktop.

Both Meyers and Sacco likely wish they could take back their words. You can’t. We live in a day of instant worldwide communication. The higher profile your job is, the faster your words can bring you down.

Think before you post.


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