I don’t want to talk about about the KitchenAid debate tweet. I want to talk about how things like this turn us into snarling rubber-neckers and how gross that is.

For the record, I’m writing not from an ivory tower but from disgust at my own reactions last night and today, from spending 10 minutes searching for the offending tweet once I saw an RT of the apology (I didn’t find it. By the time it appeared it was already less interesting than catching up on “The Mindy Project.”) to clicking a link to the offending tweeter’s personal twitter account to search for… for what? Evidence that I would have been able to see coming a mile away but that KitchenAid missed? More tweets I disagree with and can judge? Shameful. That’s not the sort of peer I want to be professionally, nor the kind of human being I want to be in general.

Here’s what I’m telling myself today, and telling you:

1. It happens to the best of us. I guess by making that statement I’m including myself among the best, and you know what? I’m ok with that. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am. I’ve spent my career studying customer service and customer communications in school, at conferences, and every day in practice at my job and in my life. I haven’t written a book and I’m not in demand as a keynote speaker, but I’m pretty damn good anyway. And I’ve tweeted from the wrong account. I’ve misspelled a word. I’ve included a broken link. As long as we are humans communicating with one another, we will make mistakes. If you can’t accept that, maybe you should stick to following the porn bots.

kitchen_aid_tweet_snafu
2. Only you can prevent forest fires and erroneous tweets.

Because it’s easy to screw up (and so help me, if you are lazy enough to believe any software company’s claim that their product can keep you from screwing up, you deserve what’s coming to you.) and because we know there’s always a danger of screwing up, our lives are made easier by simply introducing less opportunity for giant whiffs. A drastic way to do that is to make it a rule not to tweet anything from your personal account that would be impossible to explain/apologize away from a brand account. No cursing, drunk tweeting, political rants, what have you. “But I gotta be me!” you say. That’s cool. Then why not:
  • use two different Twitter clients for professional vs personal accounts soyou can’t accidentally tweet from the wrong one.
  • use a different social channel like Facebook or Path or Pinterest to express your rage and weirdness. Then leave your link in the comments here; I’m dying to see a rageful Pinterest board.

3. If a brand executes their crisis plan, it’s not a fail. Stop that. Stop crowing with delight when someone else screws up. I get it – there is a certain amount of adrenaline that builds up because you think about how easily it could happen to you (see item #1 above) and you have nothing to do with it once you see whatever anti-climactic error was made except to say, “WHHHEEEEWWW. I am SO GLAD I didn’t do that!” And then, because you’re on a roll, you get a little smug about it. “I would NEVER let myself be exposed like that.” “That’s what happens when you outsource to an agency.” “Hehe – that intern is totally fired.” The first thing I saw about the KitchenAid debacle was an RT of their original apology proceeded by “#brand #FAIL.” Knock it off.

4. That’s a person behind that handle. This is a lesson that transcends way beyond Twitter and this instance, but that’s a post for another time. Here, now, think about how you fell all over yourself to search the personal Tweets of the Twitter fumbler, searching to find the exact moment they realized they blew it, looking at past tweets to find any evidence that it was totally coming and you could have seen it a mile away, maybe even searching other social profiles to create a really great story about whoever it is. And seriously, God have mercy on your soul if you’re the sort who actually tweets at them about their fumble. We are human beings. We don’t all believe the same things, nor say them, but we’re allowed. Someone just lost their job, less so for the mistake made and more so because of the content of that mistake, something they believe. When you say, “Good!”, when you make a joke of it, you are delighting in something bad happening to another human being. Are you cool with that?

How many more apologies will KitchenAid need to make before you are appeased? How many evening news stories do you have to consume before you feel full sated? Or can this just be what it was and be moved past so we can talk about global warming, homelessness, the peanut butter recall, the actual debate that happened, or any other number of important topics that directly affect your life?

Give it some thought today, and if you’re starting to feel a little icky about your behavior, be nice to a stranger and put a little more good karma back out in the universe.