Last Friday, a young lady who recently graduated from the University of Iowa, was likely shocked when a story she wrote for NextGen Journal resulted in hundreds of comments on the not-so-well-known website. Her article, “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25,” drew the ire of social media professionals (most of them over the age of 25).
HARO founder Peter Shankman posted on Facebook about her article, encouraging marketing people “to have fun with this genius.” In a way, she did ask for it … but I also felt bad for her when reading through the scores of negative comments. When I saw the link to her story from the founder of HARO, I had to click it. The headline was, well, very enticing to me as someone who is over the age of 25 and has worked as a social media manager and continues to advise clients on social media.
Since the controversial article was posted on Friday, NextGen Journal’s editors published a response article, as did one of the self-professed “social media old folks” incensed by her story. But, we have yet to hear from the author, herself, who is likely hiding from all of the attention (note: she continues to post to her Twitter as if nothing has happened).
The last sentence of her article, pretty much sums up her opinion:
“The mere fact that my generation has been up close and personal with all these developments [social media] over the years should make clear enough that we are the ones who can best predict, execute, and utilize the finest developments to come.”
It’s a naive statement, by someone just out of school, and I don’t agree with it (but, then again, I am older than 25!). While I whole-heartedly agree with most of the criticisms of the article, and the right to post those comments, it was the personal attacks in the comments and on her social media pages that disturb me as borderline cyber-bullying. If we’re so older and wiser, we should respond with maturity, not name-calling and demeaning rants.
I could go on and on about this article and the general response to it, but need to get to the point for the sake of this blog. An important fact has eluded this young writer. Even if her story is removed from NextGen Journal, it will not disappear. Trust me, I wish someone had told me years ago that the Aerosmith fan site I created for a desktop publishing class in college would still be up for years to come. Thankfully it has not haunted my professional career (perhaps it has even helped J). The best way she, or anyone else in her situation, can respond is to face the criticism head-on and maturely write another article (a sentiment shared by at least one “angry old guy”) that hopefully shows that she has learned from this experience and that there was no intent to offend the masses … you know, the ones that might employ her someday.