Social Media Bites Back

Sunday, 15 May 2011
I love to tweet observations about what goes on in airports while I'm traveling. Two reasons: I get bored and lonely and I like to turn up the humor to get someone to laugh. Recently one of my airport observations angered someone.

When I was leaving Tyson airport in April, I tweeted that "A couple in their 20s had brought the pillows from their bed for the plane ride with matching cases and all. Perhaps a bit much?" I am a seasoned traveler and I rarely see people bring their bed pillows. I observed this sitting in the gate area getting ready to board the plane. Was I being ugly? Yes. Was it in the name of fun for #airportobservations (Twitter hashtag)? Yes. True, I didn't consider that someone would find it "offensive." I also took a picture of the couple with the pillows and posted it to Twitter (I have a private account so only people who I accept can read my tweets). It is blurry and you cannot make out the identities of the people and of course I didn't know their names. However, the guy in the picture was not happy.

He emailed my work Facebook account (with his name) and wrote:

Hi, I'd like to say that your posting of the surreptitious photo you took of me (and my giirlfriend) at the airport was offensive. I'll also admit that my reaction was embarrassment... mostly due to your comment. If I cared to do so, I'm sure that I could photograph you doing something that would make you seem unsophisticated and then publish it for the world to see. However, I wouldn't intrude into your world that way, especially without knowing the circumstances. Trust me when I say, you don't have any idea why we were carrying pillows (to our destination).

It just so happens that we know some of the same folks and frankly I'm not the only one that was put off by your contemptuousness. Knoxville is a rather small town. In your line of work, I would recommend taking every opportunity to make friends, not foes! (one humble man's opinion) I must admit, with only a few minutes of research, I'm able to see that you're really not all bad... surprisingly. However, most people probably wouldn't make that effort considering the first impression you have made.

I enjoyed your point of view on some of your blogs... including your "Blond across the pond" blog where you discuss your perspective expressed in the Pundit Danger write up. ~consider what you say... because you never really know what kind of effect it may have~
Something a wise person once told me... anything negative you say about someone else is projected on to you. It is probably inevitable that sooner or later, we'll cross paths in a social setting... although I hope not. I respect your right to free speech, however, please consider the opportunity to remove my photo and your comments...

In response I wrote, "You are right, John Doe. My comments were unkind and for that, I am sorry." I found the picture and erased it. 

I'm posting this to give a reminder to those of us who use Twitter on a daily basis and share our thoughts with hundreds, maybe thousands of other people. I have an idea who passed on my tweet to the gentleman. Am I sorry for the tweet? Yes. I do not want to be the cause of distress and anxiety to someone. At the time, I didn't think the tweet would be taken so seriously. I also now understand that journalists probably have thicker skin than other folks.

I've been insulted for my work, writing style, clothing, college degrees, car, hair color, soft ball playing ability... (I could go on) in public forums repeatedly as a TV reporter over the last 10 years. Instead of fighting back, I've learned to try not to let someone else's words bother me. I've also learned to once again, take Twitter a bit more seriously.

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