Over the past few years, a good deal of digital ink and discussion has been wasted on overstated outrage and senseless vitriol. Whether it's fairly well regarded bloggers or digital personalities personally attacking one another, or bands of social participants decrying outrage at the most trivial items (minor platform redesign, minor brand policy changes or one-off service failure), most of these feuds seem to lose steam within a week or two.
The real loser in these disagreements aren't the bloggers, social personalities or the complainers, it's the social space overall. When people see influencers behaving poorly, they learn that such behavior is acceptable in the digital culture. When the community overreacts to every little thing (only to move on 30 seconds later), serious marketers and technologists learn to take the community less seriously. A digital culture known for it's childish behavior will be not be taken as seriously as it could be by the those investing in creating or supporting these digital experiences (technologists, investors and supporting marketers).
If we want our voices as citizen journalists, bloggers, and social media participants to be taken seriously, we must start behaving like the professionals and responsible citizens we claim to be. This means that we should not air our dirty laundry, or that of our colleagues for the sake of gaining a few clicks. We should not leverage our influence to strong-arm brands into offering better compensation or "enhanced" customer service. We should not jump on the latest bandwagon for the sake of being viewed as current. And for Gd's sake, not every negative experience is the end of the world as we know it. With all this talk about encouraging marketers to embrace risk and a culture of frequent iteration, one would think we would get used to the occasional stumble and learn to participate in the dialogue in a productive manner.
We as an industry and as a culture need to learn to leverage our voices to facilitate meaningful and productive discussion. We need to learn to keep our personal gripes personal, and approach all public discourse with an eye towards productivity. We need to learn that not every service failure is an #epicfail and not every change is a desperate attempt at _______. Sensationalism drives clicks, but it destroys our credibility.
The ability to voice our opinions may be a right, but the respect of our peers is a privilege. Socialize responsibly.