When I was applying for a public relations internship in college, I left the “L” out of public in the word public relations on my resume. That’s right. You know what that spells. The interviewer knew too. She pointed it out. I almost crawled under the conference room table.
Till this day, I have to double check to make sure the word public has that all important L when I type the word. I’ll go to my grave with that one.
We’ve all made mistakes in our careers. Fortunate for me, my gaffe wasn’t splashed across the internet at the time and it didn’t stick to me like a drunken midnight tattoo either. That’s not the case for Cathryn Sloane.
On July 20, 2012, Cathryn’s life changed forever. That’s the day her article Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be under 25 landed like a bomb on nextgen Journal. The response was fast and ferocious. If you don’t know what a modern-day burning at the stake looks like, check out the almost 600 comments on the article. Only a handful of them aren’t foaming at the mouth or gleefully mocking her. Her point of view made national headlines.
Cathryn is wrong and it’s obvious for many reasons, but that’s not why I’m writing this article. I don’t need to be one more person to jump on the mile-high dog pile.
Where is the Kindness?
What’s disappointing to me is that her elders stooped to her level. Only a few offered her some kind words of wisdom and sincerely steered her in the right direction. Mostly, the barrage of people over 30 who are fiercely proud of their social media management skills and history hurled stone after stone after stone.
Let me ask: what’s the point in being the 100th or 200th or 300th person to tell her how misguided she is? The person is down and they aren’t moving and you have to get in one more kick, really? How many finger-wagging comments does it take to teach someone a lesson?
At any time any of us could do something or say something to hurt someone else. It’s so easy to judge. What’s more difficult is recognizing the humanity in each and every person.
I don’t care how effective a social media manager you are or how long you’ve been on Twitter or writing a blog. What impresses me more is that you demonstrate the wisdom and compassion that is supposed to come with age.
Amy Dean is President of Dean Public Relations, offering multi-channel communications strategies and execution to raise the visibility of businesses. She provides strategic communications consulting, media relations outreach and social media writing and counseling.