Brands and organisations are big targets. Many are still scared of opening up to a social media-driven internet for fear of doing or saying anything that might attract negativity. Trolling-type behaviour is commonplace, and commenting on or sharing brands’ ‘mistakes’ seems to be a favourite pastime for many.
But there are ordinary people behind those companies, and they aren’t immune either. And the impact of such seemingly ‘innocent’ cruelty can be devastating.
Herd mentality is a big problem on the internet.
People join in with the latest ‘thing to be outraged about’ or ‘hilarious gaffe’ without really thinking things through. It’s just too easy to click ‘share’ or fire off a derogatory tweet and then move onto the next thing.
[Tweet “Internet herd mentality causes people to jump on the bandwagon without thinking things through”]
There have been two examples in the last week of such bandwagon-jumping behaviour.
The first surrounds this tweet by the English FA celebrating the arrival home of the successful women’s England football team at the World Cup.
“Sexist!”, they cried. “Patronising!”, they stormed. But is it? I mean, really? Naive, yes. The FA should have been aware there was a possibility of that kind of a response and worded the tweet much better. But offensive? Come on.
The sentiment of that tweet is clearly overwhelmingly positive and full of pride. And the infuriatingly-PC reaction lacks context. England’s players are semi-professional; they WILL now go back to their ‘normal lives’. And furthermore, if it was an England male semi-pro team and you switch the language around to reflect that, would anyone have batted an eyelid? Nope.
So the tweet gets deleted and the sentiment of pride in the ladies’ outstanding achievement is lost among a storm of unnecessary negativity.
Personally I think the nickname ‘Lionesses’ is more patronising than the tweet, but maybe that’s just me.
Leaving the FA aside, the second story is about a cake that went viral. This image was posted to Reddit with the text: “The cake that was ordered and the cake that arrived”:
People laughed and people mocked and people shared. Suddenly every man and his dog was aware of the “horrific” Elsa cake. But as ever, there was far more to this than a botched attempt at cake decoration.
As it turns out, the person who made the cake on the right, who is quite obviously an artist of the highest magnitude, knew nothing of the cake on the left. The back story is that the ‘horror cake’ was donated to a charity called Icing Smiles, which delivers cakes to critically ill children. And that the person who made it had only two hours to deliver it after she had spent the day comforting her mother after her grandmother had died. “I didn’t want to let that sick baby down”, she said.
The founder of Icing Smiles commented: “The child is so upset her cake is being made fun of. It’s impacted her as well and we’re dealing with a sick child that now is down in spirits and we’re coming back in and re-serving her with another cake to try and boost her spirits again.”
Not quite so funny now, is it?
Icing Smiles published this on Facebook:
“My heart broke for the baker because I know how much of herself she puts into her donations. My heart broke for the family should they come across the posts because it may take from their joy of receiving the gift. It broke for our team whose extraordinary efforts were used in this way. Our Sugar Angel wasn’t commissioned to copy Shawna’s work, she was asked for a Frozen cake for a sick child and she did just that.
When I finally got past the initial shock, I fearfully reached out to our Sugar Angel, Lisa to offer my sympathy and boy did she change my attitude. Her facebook page was loaded with comments to which she graciously replied with humor and self-deprecation. She even commented that she knew it wasn’t her best work and maybe Elsa was getting back from rehab. The best part was that she didn’t care because she made a child happy.”
McGreevy Cakes, which made the ‘good’ cake, also published this:
“I know, guys, that no one means any harm, here. It’s just that… well… this is what I think- I think someone tried. I think someone had the guts to go for it… even when, I’m sure, they didn’t know if they could pull it off. They took the chance anyway and put themselves out there. And maybe it didn’t come out they way they were hoping, but it’s their WORK.
I look at it this way… what if it was done by one of my kiddos, or someone in my family who I love dearly? What if they really wanted to try this out, and were scared to, but decided to do it anyway, knowing they had to start somewhere? Would I be ashamed? Not in a million years. ‘Cause at the end of the day, they took a risk, and instead of hiding in their safe little comfy box, they stepped out of it for a second and gave it a go. And THAT’S what I think this life is all about.
I’ve had epic fails. LOTS of them. Am I hoping they’re never put in the spotlight for all of the world to laugh at? Yes.
So am I loving that my photo (which clearly has it’s own serious faults) is being used as a comparison to someone’s who decided to step out there and give it a shot?
Naw. Not really. Again, not wanting to be harsh here guys… just wanting to keep it real.”
So what’s the moral of these stories? Actually, while I would love to sum this all up in some definitive, insightful conclusion, I don’t have one and I don’t know.
I guess it’s just to stop and think before we react to something we read or see online. Don’t take things at face value. And consider who we might be hurting if we go ahead and click the share button.
As Jerry Springer once said: “Take care of yourself. And each other.”