Nancy Grace thought the accidental death of an internationally adored star was a good opportunity to get her name in the spotlight. While singer Whitney Houston’s family, friends and fans were mourning their sudden loss, Grace told CNN,
“I’d like to know who was around her, who, if anyone gave her drugs, following alcohol and drugs, and who let her slip, or pushed her, underneath that water? Apparently no signs of force or trauma to the body. Who let Whitney Houston go under her water?” Her insensitivity is enough to fill this entire edition of Public Displays of Protocol, but she doesn’t deserve further publicity. Grace is obviously LOSING. And the television networks are WINNING for keeping her quiet over the past couple of weeks.
ESPN Editor Anthony Federico came up with the bright idea to headline his game recap on Jeremy Lin’s performance “Chink in the Armor.” I suspect this sort of action is taken in order to, at most, make a name for oneself, or at least, to
sound clever. Needless to say, Federico was fired and he, as well as ESPN, followed quickly with an apology. Although his apology seemed sincere enough, it cannot erase the 30 minutes the headline sat on ESPN’s mobile site in connection to an Asian American. Even when you think no harm will come of it, you must understand that the pain of racial slurs run deep and it is extremely difficult to come back from that. Normally, I would give Frederico a win for his heartfelt, rapid response. However, I think in this case he is LOSING.
It would only seem reasonable that a House of Representatives hearing on President Obama’s policy that requires insurers to pay for birth control coverage would be open to various testimonies of female witnesses. Yet, a hearing held earlier this month consisted of mostly men. Yes, men – a panel consisting of conservative, religious men who have no need for birth control coverage – had the most say on the matter. As a matter of fact, the committee refused to allow the testimony of a female law student from Georgetown University who depends on birth control for severe health reasons. For setting us back an entire century and silencing the female voice, this committee is LOSING!
Lessons learned from our public figures:
1. Someone else’s misfortune or fortune is not your opportunity to hurt them or their loved ones.
2. Learn to be culturally and racially sensitive in our increasingly diverse communities.
3. Sexism was unattractive in previous eras and it’s even uglier now.
A little over a year ago, I was talking with a couple of public relations managers who were expressing
the difference in how entry-level professionals correspond over email now compared to how they used to when they started out. There was a slight tone of annoyance with the lack of professionalism and pleasantry. One manager said, “When I started, we would begin an email message to a superior by saying ‘Good morning.'” Just last month, I found myself in the same conversation with a room full of professors. An information design professor said, “The students don’t even state who they are in the email!” In both cases, the concern is many people aren’t sure how to address others (especially those who are not their peers) when using electronic mail.
I can relate to both sides of the informal or impersonal email trend. I’ve been the one to send a message and get directly to business, “Hi Alex, I am writing to request… Please send it over ASAP. Thanks, Jai.” Only to have Alex write back saying, “Hi Jai, I hope you had a great weekend.” before getting to business. In a forgiving manner, Alex reminded me that I was speaking to a real person. Now I make it a point to check myself and talk to the person, not the computer screen.
On the other hand I’ve been the recipient of the message that goes something like this, “Here’s my assignmetn. I know it’s late, but I hope you’l count it.” That’s the full email – no greeting, no proofreading, and the student did not bother to identify herself. My disdain aside, I almost discarded the note, because as I sped through my overflowing inbox it looked more like spam.
It’s understood that the very nature of email makes it a more relaxed mode of communication, but that doesn’t mean you throw all basic rules of correspondence out of the window. These are some tips to think about as you construct your email:
1. Keep the recipient of your email in mind. You might need to make your writing more or less formal depending on the individual you are addressing. “Dear Chris,” is appropriate for a potential employer; whereas “Hi Jean,” is fine for a familiar contact; and “Hey Mike,” is cool for a co-worker who is your friend.
2. Greet the other person. Let the person know you are talking to him/her. Say hi, hello, good morning, or whatever floats your boat, but say something. Remember that you are talking to a human being. You can type something simple like “I hope all is well with you” or you can ask them how they are doing.
3. Clearly state the point of your email. Briefly sum it up in your subject heading. Then in the body of the note, make sure the person can understand why you are contacting them. Are you sending them something? Are you requesting something? Are you just touching base?
4. Identify yourself at some point in the message. You can do the normal thing and sign off with your name at the end. If it is your first time reaching out to the person, you can state who you are in the first sentence. Just make sure at some point they know this note is coming from you.
5. Proofread! Show that you give two hoots about what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to. Take some pride in all that education you’ve amassed by now and flex your grammatical muscles.
6. Once you’ve already sent and received messages, it is OK to give more informal responses. If you are sending notes back and forth throughout the day, then it’s not expected that you include salutations, identification or well wishes before you press send each time. It’s acceptable for you to respond directly to what is being discussed without the fluff.
Example of a safe email:
For examples of formal email writing, see Formal Email Writing Etiquette: Get Your Desired Results.
The way technology is now makes it so very easy to track another person’s every online move. You have close to complete access to where your best friend is hanging out at this very moment by peeping at Foursquare check-ins. It’s easy to know if your girlfriend is sending smiley faces or hugging the next man just by perusing her wall. The photos of your little sister going through her scantily clad phase keep popping up all over the place. The list of things you can monitor goes on and on. It’s like the Internet is tempting you, even encouraging you to be a stalker.
Too many relationships have been destroyed over what people thought they saw happen on a social network or microblogging site. It not worth the tension and heartache, especially since often times the way things appear in a single post or photo aren’t quite what they seem. While you may assume you are staring at a photo of your girlfriend squeezing some other dude, you could really be looking at a shot of her giving her coworker a brief, uneventful farewell. No need to tint your car windows and wear your sunglasses at night to spy on your girlfriend.
You have to be the one to make a conscious decision not to spend hours checking others’ timelines, walls, boards, check-ins all day, every day. And when you do come across this info about your significant other, friend, or relative, it is best that you do not try to hold it against them. This is not information for you to use to make unfounded accusations, because there can be a back story to just about anything you find online. It is better to take most of these things with a grain of salt. If you do see a red flag, then raise the topic in a manner that is not accusatory and see if there is a reasonable explanation behind it.
If nothing else, consider that you have better things to do with your time than stalk those you care about. Sure you can look to see that all is well with them, but don’t use it as a means to track their every move and make them uncomfortable about sharing their experiences.
Plain and simple, cyber bullying is not nice. Kids in junior high and high school should not get on Facebook calling other kids names. College students shouldn’t get on message boards or mass e-mail to encourage the thrashing of a certain type of student. Great, I’m glad we got that out of the way.
What I really want to address is this murky area of cyber bullying in the adult world where people make vague, general quips on social networking sites. It’s the racist comments, anti-semitic posts, the gay bashing jokes that don’t necessarily say “Go out and shoot all [insert marginalized group here] until there are no more left,” but they often insinuate that it’s okay to harm another human being. Another type of comment that is commonly resorted to is the unfounded slander of another individual’s good name, which brings them down or endangers their livelihood. These are not messages of retaliation or empowerment for you. They’re signals of hatred and they are passive aggressive threats towards others. At times, they are just enough of a push to convince some unstable dim-wit to take action that turns out fatal.
Consider that anyone you speak out against or encourage others to harm has loved ones who do want them around. S/he is someone’s child or parent, friend, soul mate, reason to go another day. This is a living, breeding, bleeding person. In other words, this person is more like you than you would care to admit. Instead of using social media to bring them harm, use it to Google or Bing ways to manage your own anger and pain.