We saw the first rule of social media put to the test this week. That rule? “Don’t feed the Trolls…”
The wife of my state legislator, Shadrack McGill, took to her husband’s Facebook page to scold women she claimed were sending the Republican lawmaker risqué photos and messages.
Predictably, his constituents took to message boards to leave a variety of comments that were mostly unsympathetic, mocking her naivety and thin-skinned reaction to what were likely provocations by his political opponents.
If I had been advising the McGills on how to deal with the situation as a strategic communicator, the last thing I would have recommended would be to publicly signal that the agitating tactics were working. But alas, I wasn’t there, so the wife, Heather, took it upon herself to gush emotionally.
One can sympathize to anyone in a situation where they feel as if their family is threatened, but this wasn’t as simple as a wife warning off some floosie who hit on her man. This was a blanket ultimatum by Heather McGill that she was going to “out” a bunch of people who, as it was rightly pointed out, her husbanded had friended on the social network in the first place – people who might have conceivably had their accounts hijacked the same way she had posted from her husband’s account rather than her own.
She might as well have been in a car wreck because everyone slowed down to take a close look at that mangled mess. She not only threw a big, meaty bone of gossip to busybodies in their community, but to regional media as well.
The immediate presumption by some, based mostly on cynicism about politicians in general, was that the senator had perhaps enjoyed some flirtatious talk and told a story to cover behavior unbefitting of his wholesome Christian family man image. Others wondered in message threads whether Heather McGill lacked the sophistication to understand the difference between a real message and spam.
I’m sure her husband, who would much rather promote his legislative agenda, wasn’t entirely thrilled about news reporters calling their home to ask whether he was carrying on with promiscuous women. It gave an opening to his most vocal critics, abortion rights advocates, to joke that the state senator did seem awfully preoccupied with the bodies of his female constituents.
Perhaps McGill did it intentionally with an eye on the national stage because ABC News came calling for a sit-down and the ladies of The View dedicated a segment to the story.
You know you’ve stepped in it when writers dedicate column space to mock you and people create viral memes to poke fun at your situation.
Elsewhere on the Internet this week, 27-year-old law student Taylor Chapman got a lesson in social media fame when she became the subject of an intense backlash after recording herself on her iPhone delivering a racist tirade against workers at a Dunkin’ Donuts.
In the 8-minute-long video, which (WARNING) contains some despicable language, Chapman boasted how she was going to post the clip online because she wanted to “get a million effing hits on YouTube.”
She has since deleted her Facebook, and a search of her Twitter name, @_TaylorChapman, reveals thousands of Tweets mocking her for her stupid and shallow stunt.
In proxy of getting to confront her face-to-face, people are flaming her on Twitter in much the same way they used the Twitter account of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to condemn him once he was identified as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. She is, as she sought to become, now famous. Well, infamous, anyway.
Dunkin Donuts, which has a savvy social media presence, capitalized on the Florida incident to praise the way the situation was handled by 18-year-old employee Abid Adar. Many people would have no doubt gotten enraged by the irate customer and accelerated the intensity of the exchange. These days, someone will try to bait you to get a response so they can broadcast it for the world to see in a sort of sadistic sporting spectacle.
Instead, Adar focused on resolving the complaint, even as it meant taking horrendous verbal abuse and giving Chapman free products. The positive publicity had added up to a ton of dough. As it turns out for Chapman, those free doughnuts she left with have come with a hefty price.
There’s a certain amount of delicious irony in the way Chapman identifies herself as holding a degree in business and marketing (because isn’t it obvious?) and working toward becoming a lawyer. Not if a few million people who hate her now have anything to say about it.
In a world where a YouTube clip of the pudgy “Star Wars Kid” doing a goofy Darth Maul impersonation leads to 27 million views and years of ridicule/therapy, I don’t know any law firm that would hire this horrible woman unless she changes her name and moves to a different part of the country.
This stunt will haunt her forever.