My former colleague Andrea Weckerle is organizing a fundraiser to build a Civilination Academy for Online Conflict Management. She asked me to help, given my past history, and of course I am delighted, so welcome to the second Punish Geoff… Read More »Punish Geoff Fundraiser: Civilination!
A colleague has been struggling with some negative talk on the back channel and asked me how I deal with it. When someone slights me, I use that resentment to drive me further, finish hard projects, go the extra mile, and get up when I fail.
This is the famous chalkboard moment. Sports teams often use slights and trash talk to go out and hand it to the opposition.
Michael Jordan admitted a similar fueling approach when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jordan was criticized (justly), probably because he said he did it to prove all of his critics wrong. He also revealed several resentments toward players that were in attendance.
Freedom allows many things, good and bad. The rationalization of justified Internet vigilantes arguably falls in both camps, depending on your perspective.
We love the archetype of the vigilante, the person who goes out and meters justice when authorities fail to do so. In a romantic sense, it makes sense. Consider our pop culture heros; Batman, Iron Man, Jack Reacher (in spite of Tom Cruise), Clint Eastwood’s many tough guy characters, and on and on. We worship their ability to right wrong in the spite of flawed protection mechanisms.
Thanks to the Internet, practicing vigilantism has never been easier. Social media empowers anyone to speak out for justice, and successful acts are met with attention and notoriety.
That’s unfortunate. Vigilantism (or “digilantism” online) is dangerous because the actor may not be well grounded in their ideas of right or wrong.
Last week we talked about antisemitism, hate and intolerance, and this week Boston suffered a brutal terrorist attack, an act of hate. Then we witnessed the fallout online with the autotweet debates, which took some pretty uncivil turns. Today, let’s focus on beauty and positive action.
Every year I make the journey down to the tidal basin to visually record the brief yet stunning presence of the cherry tree blossoms. These are some of my more popular photos when I share them, usually marking the arrival of Spring
Today, you will find a collection of 10 of my cherry blossom photos from the past five years as curated by Jess Ostroff. Please enjoy their simple beauty.
If you want to go further and take action against hate, I’ve installed the Cafepress PressIt plugin, which allows you to scroll over any of these images, click on the “PressIt” button, and buy something with your preferred cherry blossom image. I receive 10% of the sale, and will donate all of my proceeds to the Anti-Defamation League, which per my antisemitism post, is a cause that fights racial intolerance, and was started by my great grand uncle Sigmund Livingston. To further incentivize you to make a purchase for tolerance today, I will match up to $1000 in proceeds.
Read More »Cherry Blossoms for Tolerance
So why do serial complainers lose credibility on and offline?
We all know these people, the kvetch or worse, the troll, the person that always brings a storm cloud whenever they discuss an issue.
Publicly everyone listens, privately they get dismissed on the back channel as a hater or worse. Eventually, people stop listening all together.
The title alone is the answer, specifically, repeat complaining.
In social communities the consistent malcontent becomes the equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. In fact, if the malcontent goes so far as to hurt others, they breed a form of reciprocity that no one really wants to see, vengeance.
A German study from the Institute for the Study of Labor shows that negative acts create a similar responsive reciprocity, a willingness to harm those who previously acted against the surveyed individual.
Read More »Why Serial Complainers Lose Credibility
As someone who delivered more than his fair share of snarky, forceful contrarian opinion about people and brands in online conversations, I believe this behavior harms communities.
Having alienated readers, friends and business interests alike with this behavior, I’ve made a concerted effort to change.
But people don’t forget so easily, as a couple of commenters reminded me in response to this week’s Cathryn Sloane post.
My conclusion: It takes a long time to amend “douchebaggery.”