Monday, November 30, 2009

Stupid (But Funny and Harmless)

I saw this picture and story yesterday, and I think I starred and shared with the anticipation I might use it for next Sunday's funnies: it is pretty funny.
Turns out, the station doesn't find the incident funny. A pair of mangers have allegedly been suspended.
The advertisement, for WPMI-TV in Alabama, showed the station's anchors, Greg Peterson and Kym Thurman, with their top weatherman Derek Beasley, alongside the latest headline and the words “Right now on Twitter”.

Unfortunately for the station, at one stage the top headline on Twitter read “Three accused of gang rape in Monroeville”, and the misleading juxtaposition was caught on camera by a passing motorist as he drove through Mobile, Alabama.
Electronic networking has allowed communication to move at speeds and efficiency that are breathtaking and nearly unbelievable to me. The downside is that stupid mistakes can escape into the big, wide world before anyone realizes just how stupid the mistake is. The nature of the e-world is for these sorts of things to "go viral," and come to the attention of tens to hundreds of millions of people for the second or two they deserve.

Not sayin' that's good or bad, just sayin' that's what it is.

The thing that gets my attention here, though, and the reason I bring this up now rather than giving the above photo its passing second in the spotlight next Sunday, is the complete randomness of the situation. Suppose that a couple of motorists had been startled or offended by the unfortunate juxtaposition, and called into the station with a verbal report. Would managers have been suspended? But a passing motorist happened to have a camera, and being amused, captured a picture to pass along for the amusement of others.

And now two peoples' careers are presumably at risk for what was, yes, a stupid decision in the course of doing their jobs. But it was a decision that, in the end, harmed no one, and most likely benefited millions with a quick chuckle, as was the case with myself. If you want to argue that the anchors have had their honor and credibility impugned, I'll respond that if their egos are so fragile that they are threatened by something as trivial and downright silly as this, perhaps it is they who should be suspended. They clearly don't have the thickness of skin required to be journalists.

So I think this event (or non-event, really) should be taken as a word to the wise that your stupid can become very public, very quickly, if you don't pause for a moment and consider what you're about to irrevocably send out into the world, how it's going to look and what its context will be. Yes, it was stupid, but it was harmless.

And I, for one, appreciated the laugh.

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