It’s been a few weeks since Shelby and I had time to write our weekly “She Said, He Said” blog posts. Yesterday, Shelby shared “Three mistakes in one day: My social media regrets,” which I tried to read with an open mind. When I had to edit that post, I wanted to change the title to “My name is Shelby and I was wrong, I was wrong and I was wrong again!”
The problem is I know Shelby
As I read through her list of three mistakes, I had several thoughts. First, journalism is a tough gig when you choose to do it professionally and with ethics. Here’s a lady who has been out of the news business for more than 18 months yet still considers everything she puts out on the internet “published.” She’s right; and if you took nothing else away from her post that would be enough.
Over the course of one day, Shelby published information that proved to be factually flawed. First there was the Photoshopped image that she took for real. She also jumped into a Twitter conversation about a reporter supposedly being let go by a newspaper. That very newspaper had apparently even reported the story incorrectly.
None of these mistakes had been Shelby’s. Her only mistake was not taking the time to fact check her own re-publishing of the information. We’ve all done it. We’ll all do it again. Just do me a favor and try to do it less. For example, I just did a Google search of “Rachael Ray cooks her dog” and found out quickly that was a hoax. Sorry Shelby, but you should have done the same.
And yes, I make social media mistakes too
In the very Facebook thread where Shelby had shared yesterday’s post, I egged on Shelby’s brother Mark. I know Mark well enough to know it would turn into an ugly yet humorous sibling argument. On top of that, I shared an event that had happened at a private family function to which I had been fortunate enough to be invited. That was just plain stupid on my part. Some shit just does not belong on the internet or even on Facebook.
And here is a shocker. Sometimes I swear and put it out there on the internet. While I know that’s not the smartest social media strategy in the world, quite honestly I don’t give a damn.
Be who you are online
Popeye the Sailor Man said it best: “I am who I am, and that’s who I ams.” (I tried to find the clip but it’s not online.) Be who you are because there really is only one of you. Shelby is a journalist (it’s in her blood and it’s not a title) and that means accuracy in her reporting matters. To her, it matters a great deal and getting it right even after the fact is what she will strive to do. Over time, you will find her social media streams to be a reliable and accurate source of information. That means sometimes she has to admit she got it wrong and issue a statement of correction. She doesn’t delete the offending material. Instead, she annotates to let you know why it was wrong. That folks is a darn powerful statement of her brand.
On the other hand, there is me. When I think it, I type it. Sometimes I slow down long enough to read it and think about it and not hit enter. I probably don’t do that often enough, so you get unfiltered Jimmy. I share mostly opinions online. I’m not a collector of news or a great sharer of other folks’ content. That’s not who I am. I’m me with all my strong opinions and drive to succeed. That’s what you get online. It’s the same thing you get face-to-face.
And I close with – Don’t delete it
When you make a mistake online, leave it there. Add a correcting statement or apology – whichever is appropriate. Deleting stuff just becomes a story in and of itself and it typically becomes a story bigger than the original.