If someone you follow posts something incredibly offensive & sexist, do you comment? One of the people I follow (a Vancouver news-type tweeter, talking about events and buzz in the city) posted something that infuriated me and was incredibly offensive to women. I emotionally reacted and replied with ‘how to get someone to unfollow you in 1 tweet’ and unfollowed them. Advice or feedback?
Thanks for the question, Heather. I’m sure many folks struggle with that. Should you put up with offensive, sexist or rude remarks? I say no. At the same time, I don’t think it’s worth highlighting them by giving them any public attention. So, I suggest you simple ignore the comment and unfriend, block or unfollow the offender as appropriate. Call your best friend if you need to vent your frustration but don’t do it in public.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. In some cases, you may want to rise to the defense of the insulted group, person or brand. It is much more powerful to have a group of folks outraged by an offensive, sexist or rude comment all taking issue with the offender. It takes courage to be the first person to speak up and if you’re willing to take the lead on something you feel strongly about then please don’t hesitate. Sometimes, adding your voice of reason is essential for moral justice.
However, if you are a business owner or in any way a public figure, you must decide to respond in public or in private with your brand in mind. Does the stance you want to take align with your corporate values? If it doesn’t you risk confusing your clients with content that’s contrary to your mission. Two areas of particular concern are religion and politics. I always advise keeping these offline as part of your private self. I’m sure you and your customers can agree that everyone’s entitled to an opinion but that private opinions should stay private so you can get on with the business at hand.
And to help rude-proof the rest of us, I suggest taking CNN’s Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich’s pledge to avoid digital mistakes in 2011.