Guns, opinion and the Internet Age

Bushmaster and politicsWe had an awful tragedy occur last week in Newtown, Connecticut. Unspeakable, in fact.

Where we go from here will have a great deal to do with social media and how this story plays out across smartphones and computer screens more so than newspaper and television. It will happen in two-way conversations between people who are in some way connected and will happen more quickly and decisively than the past. There’s simply nowhere to hide from criticism or comment in the Internet Age.

Shutting down conversation

Not that the National Rifle Association didn’t try…they didn’t comment after Friday’s incident and changed their Facebook page to prevent feedback (though you could still ‘like’, ironically). This helps the NRA avoid ‘hosting’ hostile comments but could also enflame passions. As one media strategist said on CNN:

“You need to be prepared to respond even if you aren’t prepared to make a statement. There are still people out there on the fence about the NRA, and this was an opportunity to engage and start a conversation. They didn’t even have to take a political stance, but they could have at least taken a human one and reacted. Instead they said nothing.”

Head in the sand

Can organization’s afford to bury their heads in the sand when controversy arises? Maybe, if their membership is firmly onboard and there’s little risk of backlash. But not putting out a statement at all and shutting down the conversation was very likely a bad strategy for public opinion, which more or less drives political response. Looking back from a future point in time, it wouldn’t be surprising for that decision to be a poor one.

In the end, whether we opt for more gun control, ban assault-type weapons, or stay exactly where we are, social media will play a significant role. Times have changed significantly over the past five years and social media needs to be factor in strategy and execution for any organization in the pubic eye.

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Categories: Social / Collaboration

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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2 Comments on “Guns, opinion and the Internet Age”

  1. Craig
    December 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Good points. I wonder, though, how can an organization balance not “burying their head in the sand” and taking a high road so as not to jump on the bandwagon of immediate political posturing that, in my opinion, is disrespectful to those involved in the tragedy.

    • Jeanne Roué-Taylor
      December 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      In our social media age, people look immediately to the players involved (directly or indirectly) for some sort of response. In this particularly tragic case, it would have been smarter for the NRA to issue an immediate statement of condolences to the victims and their families. By not showing up, and by actively taking down their Facebook page, the NRA took an anti-social stance that made them look like they were waiting for the storm to blow over.

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