Recommended reads #5

Right, this is going to be a bit of a round-about recommended read.

Let me explain…

After the one-handed chainsaw shit storm, I posted that Reg Coates and I were planning to do something together, entering into the dialogue regarding the rationale of how you put your top handle chainsaw to work in a more positive fashion. This has not happened so far. In fact I discussed it with Reg, he wrote up and sent me some thoughts on the matter, I started working on it… and ran out of steam, deciding that the temptation to turn myself into troll bait was sub-zero.

So if you have been waiting for something down those lines, I apologise. I still believe there is an important discussion to be had there, feel free to discuss the matter with me next time we meet up face to face. For the time being though, I believe that virtual spaces are not the right platform for a differentiated, level-headed discussion, as it this kind of communication is prone to misunderstandings, resulting bad blood and animosity.

As it losely ties in with some aspects of the above, I wanted to mention Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Ronson, a self-confessing twitter aficionado, describes the transition from the heady, early days of Twitter, when this new medium seemed to be a effective tool for the voiceless to hold the powerful accountable and call them out where necessary to a culture where public shaming has become ubiquitous and potentially very destructive. After reading the umpteenth asinine opinion on some forum, you cannot help but think of Ronson saying that the fantastic thing about social media is that everybody can voice their opinion – yet the disadvantage being that everybody does so.

In regards to shaming, he offers a number of diverse case studies, as well as pointed insight into the mechanisms behind shaming, all the way from the medieval practice of putting people in stocks to modern day variations upon the theme. You cannot help but conclude that we are fast in judging behaviour in others – and that electronic media have made doing so easier than ever. Judgement is but one click away. This is equally true of our industry as it is of the rest of society.

Whilst I would not compare my one handed chainsaw shit storm with what happened to Justine Sacco, one of the cases that Ronson references in his book, neither in regards to the trigger, nor the consequences, I still found it to be an unpleasant experience and was surprised by some of the stuff that people came out with.

But then again, they would say the same of what I wrote. Probably best to leave it there.

All negative? Well, there is a silver lining to the story, which is that I took away from all this a reaffirmation of the importance of considering the effect that something I say or write may have on someone else. It also brought home how a statement that makes sense to me and may appear perfectly clear can be received very differently by somebody else – and finally the insight that not every medium is as suited to convey a thought or concept and therefore to take this into consideration prior to making a statement.

So we move on, hopefully all trying to do a little bit better…