Using social media: Be kind

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From @whitehouse on Twitter

Last week in the White House briefing room, Obama said, “I’m presenting a fair deal. The fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a ‘Jedi mind-meld’ with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”

If you’re not a sci-fi fan, he made the mistake of mixing up Jedi (a Star Wars reference) with the Vulcan mind meld (of Star Trek fame).

I don’t know about you, but I find that kind of charming—I might have made the same mistake myself on a bad day—but social media exploded with comments.

“Obama just confused Star Trek and Star Wars by saying Jedi Mind Meld. I think it’s time to impeach.” @DepressedDarth

“Something something something sequester something economy about to tank something something HEY LOOKIE OBAMA SAID JEDIMINDMELD HAR HAR.” @scalzi

“by referring to a “Jedimindmeld,” Obama has opened himself up to charges of being a fake geek girl.” @scratchbomb

I just finished reading Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday, and the book opened my eyes to the potential of social media to cause irreparable damage very quickly. One simple mistake, one slip-up gets tweeted, re-tweeted, linked and re-linked until it spreads like wildfire around the world. In some cases, the notoriety eviscerates careers or reputations and leaves the shell of a person or business picking up broken pieces. Sadly, sometimes the information being spread across the globe is rumour or false information, damaging a person’s life for no valid reason.

Barack Obama, or probably more correctly, Barack Obama’s staff, handled this issue with humour and managed to turn the tide in his favour. Crisis averted—in this case.

Please, be kind. Don’t believe every rumour. Don’t spread every juicy piece of gossip. Think about how you would feel if you were the subject of that topic of the social media conversation—do a Jedi mind meld with them, if you will—because some day it might be you.

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