April 14, 2009

The Rush to Judgment

It’s frightening nowadays to be or do anything less than perfect.

In an instant your faux pas can be YouTubed and Twittered to thousands upon thousands of people. Just witness the almost instant calls to boycott Amazon.com this past weekend.

We used to talk about giving others the benefit of the doubt when we weren’t completely sure if everything was what it appeared to be. But you don’t hear much about the rush to judgment anymore. The emphasis seems to almost solely be on getting the word out, regardless of how sure we are that the word is truth.

We would be wise to slow down, give others time to adequately respond, and make sure we are really reacting to (and acting on) facts. It is too easy and too simplistic to merely fan the flames of innuendo and incomplete information.

In reality, the benefit of the doubt comes to the doubter. By acting more cautiously, we receive the benefit of avoiding looking foolish.

update 4/16/2009

You really need to read Clay Shirky's really insightful and more in-depth commentary on this topic, specifically the Amazon case. (HT: Andrew Sulivan)

1 comment:

Deirdre Reid said...

It's the "be the first to know, be the first to tell" syndrome. And it's especially bad when some of the folks who are spreading the news are the social media rock stars on Twitter, and so are more likely to be listened to without fact-checking. It's amazing how something like the Amazon story can spread so quickly, fueled by a collective indignation on Twitter. Another reason why companies and associations should always be listening to what's being said on Twitter and blogs, whether the stories are true or false, damage can be done either way, ask Domino's.