I probably shouldn’t say this, but…
Since I’m in the midst of rolling out a video series featuring one of social media’s most strident critics, it’s as good a time as any to level a little criticism of my own. And, sadly, it’s aimed at three bloggers whose work I’ve admired and learned from over the past 3 years.
Last Thursday, while checking Twitter feeds, I came across a string of messages posted by 3 thought leaders in PR/social media circles. The comments were in reference to this blog post by a young entrepreneur named Lauren Berger. The screen shots below will give you the gist of it. “That one” in the first tweet is a reference to Lauren.
It started with BL Ochman’s tweet, bounced to Shel Holtz, with a complementary shot by Ike Pigott. All are acknowledged thought leaders in PR Web 2.0. Links are to the actual tweets, and there’s much more to the thread if you care to sort through it all. I wouldn’t bother.
Joking or not, the message is clear: Our dogs are smarter than this girl!
The jokes are aimed at 25-year-old entrepreneur with a pretty impressive record from where I sit — at least if her blog bio is even half true. Lauren, who’s just a few years out of college, claims to have done 15 unpaid internships in her time at Florida State. Best any student of mine has done is 5.
Lauren became known as the “Internship Queen” in Tallahasee, a title she parlayed into a business that helped others find internships. Enterprising — or at least I think so.
Look at her blog and website and you will likely conclude, as I did, that this is an impressive young woman. I’ve not met Lauren, but I’m fairly certain Shel, BL and Ike haven’t either. As with so much in this wired world, the website and blog become first points of reference, and in Lauren’s case they’re positive. And she’s a whole lot smarter than any dog I’ve met.
Lauren’s recent post states, “I decided a few weeks ago that I was to become not only The Intern Queen but a social media expert.” She proceeds to offer some SM advice, most of rudimentary, likely what triggered the cynicism of the three “gurus.”
I interpret Lauren’s statement about “becoming an expert” as a goal, not something she’s already done. Maybe you’ll see it differently. BL, Shel and Ike apparently did.
Let’s be honest. We all play the role of “mean kid” at one time or another. But when our comments are etched in digital stone with links back to the very people we’re ridiculing, well, it reminds me of the new adage: “Think before you tweet.” (See Peter Shankman‘s excellent post in a similar vain.)
Do these online messages constitute hypocrisy? Of course not. They were written by good folks who’ve contributed more to this online discussion than I ever will. It’s banter among three seasoned professionals who — for a moment — forget where they were bantering.
I slept on this post for three full days, hopeful someone else would write it and save me the grief that may follow. But I’m a teacher, and this is a teachable moment. Let’s all learn from it.
Do we really need another reminder that online communities are the proverbial glass house?
Apparently, we do.
Update: Lauren dropped me a tweet to say she appreciates the support. She also invited you to check out her new internship site, quarterlife.com. As I said, this is an impressive young professional. Follow her on Twitter @internqueen.