Getting Slapped on FacebookMarch 15th, 2011 at 9:54 pm by Tom Schaad under News, Personalities, Uncategorized
“But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself. ”
These words from 1950′s rocker Rick Nelson crept into my head over the past weekend. This line represents more than a stanza of pop culture wisdom. It comes from Nelson’s 1972 hit , “Garden Party,” where he tells the story of getting booed off the stage at a concert. Nelson, so the story goes, was playing Madison Square Garden, and the crowd didn’t want to hear his latest work, preferring those tried-and-true selections heard in malt shops and burger joints from a different decade. I didn’t need to play this old classic to be haunted by its soft country rhythm tapping my brain. Maybe it was a self-defense mechanism responding to a cyber-bout on Facebook.
I’m a guy who once thought ”social media” would be reading Dear Abby in the morning newspaper. But Facebook has made that term part of our everyday vernacular. I, along with my colleagues, have a WAVY page,where I share thoughts, photographs, and daily musings designed to give people a glimpse of something beyond what they see when I come into their homes. But this past weekend, I caught some of the vitriol that exists on the internet. I posted a few innocent factoids on our station page, and that apparently invited personal attacks. One man questioned my integrity and stopped short of calling me a liar. Reacting to some viewer’s compliments on some of my amateur photography, another person launched into several insults regarding my character and ability as a news anchor and reporter.
Details here are not necessary. It does not matter what was said or who said them. The lesson I take away from this episode is that words can hurt. Oh, I’ve been insulted many times–in person. But there’s something about seeing things in print, for posterity, from people who don’t know you. This is not about pointing our journalistic mistakes, or disagreement on issues, those are always encouraged as part of the two-way communication that makes us better reporters. But there’s no room for childish assaults on a person’s character and good name.
Lessons for me? First, get a thick skin as a public figure in this age of social media. Cruise the blogosphere for two minutes, and you’ll read some of the most vile personal attacks from insecure people with small minds. Only now, do I understand how the targets of those diatribes really must feel when they or their loved ones read them. Second, I will communicate with people on line, the way I would want to be treated. Most of all, I learned the number of negative posts on my Facebook pages are minuscule, compared to the many thoughtful messages I read everyday. Those include story ideas, justifiable criticisms on how we can do a better job, noble attempts at satirical wit, and general kindness.
I open myself up, when I show shots of my sunsets, and dog Sophie; when I share highs and lows of Pittsburgh sports teams, and some of my nostalgic writings about family. Some of you like these nuggets, others could leave them be. If only if it were that civilized for all of us. Remember when you mom or dad said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” you know the rest. But as the baseline of the old song slowly fades, here come those time-tested words that bring a smile, and lesson about 21st century social media,
“You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself. “