What do our online interactions say about us?

by lizzschumer

Let’s talk about creator’s remorse. Most of us have probably had buyer’s remorse: When we purchase something that doesn’t turn out to be quite as awesome as we expected. It’s no fun to be stuck with a product that reminds you of poor decision-making, doesn’t it? Well, it’s even worse to have hit “publish” or “post” on something that didn’t read quite as you had hoped.

We’re all familiar with that feeling. A picture that shows you in an unflattering light, a social media comment that didn’t come off quite as you intended, maybe a blog post that didn’t read as well in the cold light of Internet day as you thought it would. The bigger your audience, the higher the stakes. So how do we deal with it?

This week, let’s look at some creators who have regretted their posts and the fallout from those circumstances.

First, Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone published “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” on Nov. 19, 2014. The online story ultimately attracted more than 2.7 million views, more than any other feature not about a celebrity that the magazine had ever published. That story ultimately proved false. Read the entire report here, if you’re interested.

An excerpt from the in-depth report about how that story unraveled reads:

Rolling Stone’s repudiation of the main narrative in “A Rape on Campus” is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable. The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking. The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine’s editors to reconsider publishing Jackie’s narrative so prominently, if at all. The published story glossed over the gaps in the magazine’s reporting by using pseudonyms and by failing to state where important information had come from.

Rolling Stone’s failure to properly check its facts has caused shock waves to reverberate not only through that media conglomerate, but the college it painted in such a negative light. This week, the magazine announced it would not be punishing the reporters and editors involved.

Read: Should there have been firings at Rolling Stone following the UVA scandal?

Think: What should be the consequences for “creator’s remorse?”

Then there’s the case of Justine Sacco, whose “just kidding, I’m white” tweet blew up the Internet and her life.

Read: The New York Times’ account of the tweet read ’round the world. This article describes not only what happened, but what it means for us, as a society both on and offline.

The article reads, in part: Her tormentors were instantly congratulated as they took Sacco down, bit by bit, and so they continued to do so. 

Think: How would you respond to a situation like Sacco’s? How about Lindsey Stone? Alicia Ann Lynch?

This week, think about how you would react if you suddenly found yourself on the wrong end of a Sacco situation, and how to repair your life after that happens.