Failure used to be easier to swallow. Back before “fail” was an interjection, before failure had blogs and whales and other memes attached to it, before you had to worry about schadenfreude propelling your misstep through all of social media — there was a time when a person could screw up fiercely and still take comfort in the fact that most people weren’t going to notice.
Even marketers and media types could rest a little easier. If you put out something terrible, most people would ignore it. And even if people did notice, at least your mistake wouldn’t be remembered for long. Now it seems your sins can live on forever, amplified by the echo chamber of the Internet. Ask Rebecca Black if you don’t believe me.
Failure in the age of social media is polarizing. Should we become bland and timid, paralyzed by worry and wearing white flannel trousers? Or should we be bold, knowing that if we put a toe out of line, a cry will go up from some dark corner of the Web, the fail hashtag hoisted like a pirate flag, and we’ll be eaten alive by trolls.
“ ’Fail’ is the scarlet letter of social media,” David Griner told an audience at a recent BlogWorld & New Media Expo panel. Griner, director of digital content for Luckie & Co., along with Meshin Community Director Dave Peck, explored a variety of recent social media public relations disasters during their presentation. But rather than being frightened by these mishaps, Griner and Peck said, the