Seth Godin has a typically pithy post about mob justice in blogs.
1. controversy is fun to write
2. controversy is fun to read
3. piling on is safe and fun
4. undoing 1, 2 and 3 is no fun, hard work and easy to avoid.
When I was a kid, there was a fair amount of mob justice. A bunch of kids would spread a rumour, a posse would appear, ask no questions, beat the crap out of you and move on.
A friend of mine is now in a similar situation (and, as Arlo Guthrie famously said, “you may find yourself in a similar situation…”). And the question is, what should he do.
If he takes the time to point out to those bloggers that they’re wrong, that they’ve taken one data point and blown it out of proportion while ignoring the facts (and there are many facts that they’ve ignored) he’s just adding fuel to the fire. “Of course you’ll deny it,” they’ve said to him on the phone, “that just proves we’re right”.
Bloggers love a good fight. They love the give and take and the comments and the links. So my friend keeps his mouth shut and waits for it to blow over.
And it will blow over. Blogging is about speed, and no news is bad news if you’re in the hunt for an easy score.
So that’s the right way to deal with the mob, but it’s not fair. It sucks, actually. The mob wins and nobody learns anything.
Yes, I guess blogs can work that way. In groups, I call it ratpacking. It’s not fun to be on the end of it.
I’m curious to know what specific incident Seth’s talking about. Without that information, I don’t see how to offer a useful response to the story… expect to say, that specifically identifying a ratpack and stating your own objections to it, may be the only thing any one of us can do to stop it.
And yes, maybe it will just blow over.