I’m sure it’s a complaint we’ve heard before: The upcoming generations don’t know how to properly socialize because they are on a computer all day. Some say that public speaking is an issue because we are so used to typing, or we don’t know how to make friends in the real world because we spend so much time in the virtual one. Others roll their eyes because we can’t focus on one topic, much less one person, because we eat lunch while texting while scrolling through Pinterest while watching TV.
These are all topics worth considering, but one particular consequence of social media has been catching my attention lately: rudeness. It’s easier to be, for lack of a better word, mean, when you don’t have to look someone in the eye. Instead, people use the keyboard as their spear and the screen as their shield, and they go on the attack.
It’s a problem that has popped up on my news feed lately, and it has even appeared in the news.
Diana Mekota, a 26-year-old planning to move to Cleveland this summer, sent a LinkedIn request to Kelly Blazek, who runs an online job bank for marketing professionals in the city (2014). Mekota sent an email on February 19 with a request to join the jobs list, which has over 7,000 members. Blazek, a self-proclaimed “passionate advocate” for job-seekers, sent a reply shortly after.
It wasn’t pretty.
“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,” Blazek said in her email. “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.
“… I love the sense of entitlement in your generation,” she continued. “You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year. Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you, just because you want to build your network.”
So, it seems like being rude over social media is not just confined to the millennials.
After she composed herself, Mekota sent an apology email to Blazek explaining why she would dare try to use LinkedIn as a way to, you know, find links with other professionals. She also posted the emails on other social media platforms, and it soon went viral.
In case anyone is wondering, Blazek did issue an apology of her own, but for me this opens the window for a lot of different questions: Who, if anyone, is responsible for monitoring what happens on social media? At what point is a perpetrator supposed to issue an apology or “pay-up” for something he or she has done? In the case of Blazek and Mekota, that last point is a bit extreme, but it become extremely relevant in other cases such as cyber bullying.
Gross, D. (2014, Feb. 27) Nasty LinkedIn rejection goes viral. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/tech/web/linked-in-cleveland-job-bank/.