Something remarkable is happening. In this era of forced transparency we know more about our politicians, our safety and one another than we ever have before. We know about the good, the bad and the ugly. We actively witness the sausage being made, and watch all of this with a morbid fascination as our friends provide color commentary from the social media peanut gallery.
As we learn our role and find our voices in the greatest hivemind in the history of mankind, we revel in the sensational. We've become like children laughing at a classmate who's pants have split. After all, it's fun... right?
But we are also destroying ourselves and eroding our society and those who work hardest to make it a better one. In a web of screaming and finger pointing, there is far less tolerance for rational discussion and consideration. Grounded solutions have no place in the immediate response of the masses. Like it or not, we're actively proving in the Twitter's trending topics that we are driven by the tagline. If the message isn't short enough to properly hashtag, is it meme-able?
The Rabbi Finkelman Rule
One of my lifelong mentors was my eighth grade teacher. He had a strict classroom policy: when he disciplined our classmate we weren't allowed to look at the student being disciplined. After all, it's bad enough to get called out by the teacher, why does our classmate need the added embarrassment of 20 friends looking at him or laughing at him?
As a society we collectively and regularly point fingers and make demands, occassionally demeaning those trying to build solutions. We impede progress. We destroy rather than build. The more that we sensationalize our world, the more polarized we become. When it comes to social issues, we often end up putting those most invested in building the solutions we seek at the other end of the table. This forces those with the ability to affect change to focus their energies on the defensive rather than building the solutions we need.
THE TSA EXAMPLE
I highly doubt that the TSA leadership meant to do any of us any harm. They are doing their best to protect us. Yet the social masses don't seem to voice their opinions with any consideration of those individuals they are blasting, focusing entirely on the negative. Sure, the policy may be invasive, but is the sensationalist backlash really the most effective response? Do we really think it more effective to force change as an adversary rather than as a partner?
The Brand Marketing Translation
Consider how people respond to a negative customer experience. They don't say "That hotel should reconsider their policy" they say "Screw Hotel X and their management for how I'm being treated #HotelFail." This response scares away brand representatives who want to help in social media and leads management to believe that people in social really are crazy. You're not helping yourself and you're certainly aren't helping those who want to help you.
There are times where nothing short of irrational finger pointing and rage are called for. These cases should be a rarity, not a rule. Use your own judgement.