Tag Archives: Jericho

Sticks and Stones

14 Aug

The difference between our online and offline selves is our levels of honesty take away our anonymity and we are all too scared to speak the truth. If we dislike something why in the world would we publicly announce it and allow our opinions to potentially be admonished by a clever retort or even an expert.

Should we just follow the age-old adage ‘If you have nothing nice to say don’t say it at all?’

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Which brings me to my childhood and the words we would say to other kids who were annoying us “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Somehow, even as a kid I knew these words were untrue, words did hurt and I guess now they are just easier to spread with the use of social media.

Greg Jericho a political blogger and author of ‘The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social Media and blogging in Australian Politics’ laments on the cretinous nature of online comments (Jericho, 2012). In effect everything we didn’t have the courage to say publicly is somehow easy online.  As a society have we become really mean? We seem to comment on a whole raft of issues with no real thought as to the consequences of our words.

Let’s take the example of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares: USA, for those that don’t know; the show is basically about Gordon Ramsay helping restaurants struggling to keep afloat. Most of the time the show ends positively but, not in the case of Amy’s Baking Company. The Michelin star chef walked off, stating he could not help them.  What ensued from this episode was a tirade of negative commentary on both Yelp and Reddit. The company later retracted the vitriolic comments allegedly posted by them on Facebook stating that their account was hacked.

In this episode Amy constantly repeats that the negative reviewers are all ‘haters’, Jericho (2012) would note these individuals are ‘trolls’. That is, is individuals who post off topic and inflammatory comments to proliferate a ‘story’. In Amy’s case the comments are the result of initial poor feedback and the show Kitchen Nightmares. This negative feedback from the show must feel like a real life nightmare for the owners of Amy’s Baking Company.

 Samy and Amy: Owners of Amy’s Baking Company

Jericho (2012) goes further to suggest that the standard rule of thumb for online comments is 90-9-1: that is, 90 per cent of individuals never leave comments; 9 per cent occasionally leave comments; and 1 per cent often leave comments. Is it fair to say that Amy’s Baking Company is ‘unlucky’ enough to have hosted the 1 per cent of reviewers that often leave comments and that of this 1 per cent most have left poor reviews?

Perhaps like Amy we can blame the haters on the idea of astroturfing, whereby an individual or group uses social media, blogs and standard media to imply that a grassroots campaign exists (Jericho, 2012). In Amy’s case perhaps this reviewer was trying to infer that Amy’s Baking Company was a terrible restaurant and that somehow he or she was to blame for the negative press attributed to Ramsay walking out of the restaurant. By, posting a review was this individual attempting to start a grass-roots campaign to destroy Amy’s Baking Company? In this episode the owners would have you believe that YES they were.

However, in some ways, the restaurant needs to be held accountable but who really knows how good or bad this place is? Well, until you have been there and sampled the food and experienced the service first hand. Perhaps it is up to you to decide, before I leave here is the episode in its entirety, happy viewing:

Resources:

Jericho, G (2012) ‘Never read the comments’, in The rise of the Fifth estate: social media and blogging in Australian Politics Carlton North: Scribe Publications