Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the aftermath of a Twitter firestorm

image source
One tweet by an academic, referenced out of context in a post by a widely read news aggregator incited a firestorm of hate, obscenity, and vitriol in comments to the post and on Twitter. Fortunately, the website heeded correction comments logged by those in the academic's network requesting the post be removed. (purposefully not linking to any of it)

What can we learn and do--

Perhaps that humor is a real toughie in online spaces where opportunities for misinterpretation, for taking offense when nothing was intended abound.

Or maybe that we should be taking collective action against organizations who permit questionable journalism that results in innocent people becoming targets of hate-- through boycotts or civil comments.

Possibly that we should become more mindful of our own reactions and model that for others--- especially when the context is unknown and/or uncertain; that we assume best intentions until facts are evident; that we consider more carefully our ladder of inference.

"Like a pane of glass framing and subtly distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see." - Peter Senge

Or that we can be instrumental in fostering a return to civil discourse, to empathy, to gratitude; that through our own words, our own actions, our writing, our Tweets-- we can speak to the strengths of others, we can empathize, we can express gratitude, we can refuse to accept intolerance and vitriol in our presence and in our online networks.

We have a choice--  we can shake our heads, we can deplore what happened --  and then continue as we have been doing.


We can decide to do our part in changing the culture in which we live and learn with even greater intention.

In my small corner of the world and the online spaces in which I reside, I will. Will you join me?