The Difference Between the NYT & Twitter is Scale

Today’s Gail Collins column about Levi and Sarah is an extended link to the Vanity Fair article of the same topic. One of the points she makes is that wow, it’s hard to have to deal with an offended ex whatever with a communications platform:

Given the fact that Johnston is a 19-year-old high school dropout whose mother was arrested last year on six felony drug counts, it is conceivable that he is not the perfect arbiter of normal families. But even if he were an Eagle Scout with a scholarship to Harvard, can you imagine anything worse than discovering your daughter’s teenage ex-boyfriend has been given a national platform to discuss his impressions of her mom’s parenting skills?

News flash: today, every single bitter ex, disgruntled friend, unhappy customer or key rival has access to a national platform, and it’s called the web. Farhad Manjoo wrote recently about Twitter and customer service, books have been written about the power of blogs, Emily Yoffe as “Dear Prudence” covered the perils of tweeting about co-workers and so on. And of course there are the people who have lost jobs or been disciplined at work for things they have said/done that were suddenly made visible to the world via the interconnected nature of the communications metaverse we now all travel.

So it is slightly jarring to me to read Collins’ take – yes, bummer to have someone with whom you disagree have a platform like VF (amplified nicely by the NYT here). But the reality is that outside the NYT bubble this is happening on a daily basis, for both good and ill.

It used be when I was giving counsel to people on communications and what was/wasn’t appropriate, I would use the throwaway line – would you be okay if you saw this in the NYT? That was often enough to get people to stop and think again about tone and manner in written communications. Today, it could quickly appear in myriad places and be amplified and extended by twitter and the NYT both. The only difference is scale.

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