Ragan Communications blogger Steve Crescenzo watched a colleague get crapped upon by what he and some others perceived to be a horde of rabid, hysterial bloggers. He has learned several things from the episode:
- Don't insult people, if it makes you look like a pompous ass (I'm paraphrasing);
- Don't piss off insecure bloggers, or they'll attack you;
- A lot of bloggers are blindly prejudiced against the traditional media.
Which is too bad, because I hoped he and others would learn these truths instead:
- It's more gracious to apologize and move on than to bluster about why you should have used a different adjective to insult someone;
- Bloggers are a lot like ordinary people. In fact they are ordinary people (a lot like trade magazine editors and columnists);
- People generally have more in common with others than they think. When they can truly see the other person's perspective, they gain far more than they would by winning an argument.
Steve has a great sense of humour. If not for a personal attack on his reputation by Nobody Allan Jenkins, I'm sure Steve would have found something funny and enlightening about this situation to share with his readers. Instead, he launched a counterattack, slamming Allan for bringing up, out of the blue, an incident from years ago that suggested Steve once acted like a drunken boor.
I'm with Steve on this one. Even Nobodies can be insensitive, and even mainstream media can feel unfairly attacked and personally offended.
An apology for the original Nobody comment by David Murray would have been nice, but I didn't expect it. I'm not holding my breath for Allan to offer an apology for slinging mud in Steve's direction, either.
Assuming no apologies are forthcoming, what else do we learn? In the comments to Steve's post, Ragan Communications' Mark Ragan misses the point about the Nobody movement. He asks for a future report on progress, metrics, and sales.The Nobody thing wasn't about sales, or site traffic or performance objectives, so don't ask for them. Our lofty goal was to bring people together and try something different. To follow a sense of indignation to its logical conclusion, and see where that took us once we got past the initial slam at an arrogant offhand comment by a trade magazine editor.
It was a bit of agitprop street drama, acted out in the blogosphere instead of at the corporate offices of its target. It was a social thing, where creative people who barely knew each other beforehand had some fun, made some statements about personal dignity, and showed how a group can quickly coalesce around an idea.
Our goals were achieved when we first extended a hand to others, and got a response. Everything else is gravy.
If no one writes another word about the Nobody thing, we will have exceeded our expectations. A bunch of people who I used to think of as competitors for audience are now acquaintances, maybe even friends, thanks to an experiment in satirical blogging.
I've learned that it's better to reach out with an open hand than a closed fist.
And that is a good lesson to learn.
Update: Comments on Steve's blog and a new post on the Nobody blog renew my faith in people. Apologies all around (well, David Murray seems uinable to actually apologize, but he makes cheery noises), and promises to get together for beers at the IABC international conference this June in Vancouver. Now if somebody could strum a guitar, we can sing a round of Kumbaya and put the nastiness behind us.