Things I'm thinking: Mean people suck and things can change

I admit it, I have not been a fan of TechCrunch or Michael Arrington. I found the site (led by Arrington) tended to be bubble-ish on hype, post-bubble-ish cynicism, and FoA biased. That said, NO ONE SHOULD SPIT ON MICHAEL ARRINGTON, much less threaten his life. It disturbed me to read Michael’s post about taking a break, particularly because the final straw took place in Germany — my second home.

I’ve seen some spiteful actions related to Spreadshirt’s founder, Lukasz Gadowski. It rarely impacts us at all, just an annoyance. Luckily, Lukasz, Matthias and the team they recruited built a strong company that can withstand spitting like this. It has made me think several times though… why do people spend time and energy trying to tear something down. What is in it for them? Like with Arrington, what was gained by spitting on him?

I know I’ve done some mean things when I was tired or frustrated. I also know I’ve stopped myself from doing them too by taking a breath and remembering, “mean people suck”. Yes, it is human nature to get frustrated and angry. But we can all take that breath too. Spend that energy building something up, take that responsibility, make things better. It is that simple.

Michael, I hope you come back.

Some people would say to the above that things can’t change. I’m going to give you two examples now of how they have.

David Henderson, former CBS news correspondent, posted a quick note today on how crisis management is changing. I loved his first line:

Web 2.0 has changed crisis response in the world of PR from “announcements” by an organization to a “conversation.”

While it hasn’t taken the world over, as it takes change on both the side of the journalists and corporations, it is happening. In 10 years, crisis management will be nothing like it was for the last 30 years, and the direction towards conversation is a positive direction, because few crises are black and white. There is always more story, and we learn more from conversations than sound bites.

Somewhat similarly, SuperBowl ads are changing to conversations. The water cooler chatter is extending to before the Super Bowl, and the driving force after. I look at what is happening is a transition from brand image implantation to brand experience. As Brian Carr pointed out in his post about “after the ad”, it is becoming less about the brand image being burned in with follow-up ads, and more about the conversations before and after the Super Bowl.

Both of these changes point to conversations with your customers being increasingly important. Social media strategies — real, interactive, aggressive strategies — must be on your list. And this shouldn’t be just to “be there”, but to converse. Who are your examples of companies that do this well? Who is from the old economy who has made the transition?

And to add some fun to the end of this serious post, check out this great watch I found today:
Faceless Watch
Found on Geek & Hype.

What does my shirt say today? What else…


5 thoughts on “Things I'm thinking: Mean people suck and things can change

  1. Great post Jana. We can all change. Social media is enabling some change as well as you point out. A key foundation of our civilization is mutual respect. We must honor this, teach this, celebrate this, embed it into everything we do. With this we can then be civil…and change.

  2. Y says:

    Unfortunately there is an aspect of tech culture online that seems to breed this kind of antisocial crap. Not sure if you heard of the Kathy Sierra incident (e.g. but that’s even more egregriously awful.

    As for what ‘social media’ really means for companies and how they market, some of the more interesting ideas I’ve seen come from Hugh, for example . Having blogs and social networking pages doesn’t really cut it unless there is authenticity and honesty instead of just another attempt to slap up a corporate brand.

  3. SuJo says:

    It’s the same with our democratic political systems Jana – we lift someone out from amongst ourseles, tell them we think they could be our leader. Then, for the duration of their term in office we set upon them, trying to knock them off the pedestal, tripping them up, setting the press on them like bloodhounds – never ever telling them again that they have our support.

    I have wondered recently what we could achieve if we lined up in support behind our elected leaders, removed obstacles from their paths, accepted that difficult problems don’t get solved in a day (or with words alone), and left their personal lives ‘out of it’. I have come to believe that constructive collaboration could be more powerful than democratic debate – at least sometimes.

    I don’t think we’ve tried that approach yet in Europe and I hope to God that our American cousins give it a chance now. SuJo

  4. freddy says:

    If you’re mean when you’re tired or frustrated then you’re mean, period. Or do you think it would be acceptable for a murderer to say, ‘sorry, I was just tired that day’. Taking a good look in the mirror and taking responsibility for what you see would be a good first step, instead of polluting the environment with your t-shirt messages.

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