I'll start with this...
"As much as we want to think that these are just people behind computer screens, those people are living next door to you. They are people behind computer screens in schools. In hospitals. Working in Washington, D.C. These are real people. How many times does this stuff have to happen before we admit something really disturbing is going on here? I think one person tweeting "Fuck you, go kill yourself" is disturbing. But when you get into the hundreds of those tweets? The thousands of those tweets? I see a lot of people out there with really volatile mental disorders that are not getting help. Because I go to their own Twitter pages, and I can see they're not just sending those messages to me. They're sending them to a bunch of people."
That was a quote from troubled Houston Rockets player Royce White, in an interview with writer Chuck Klosterman, on Bill Simmons' excellent site #Grantland
. It's a great read from misguided young man who seems to have forgotten the basics of give and take. However, I highly recommend you read through it and make up your own mind.
This isn't about that. This isn't about social media per se. This is about something I think needs to be laid down before moving forward. It's something basic that I think radio needs to fully understand and honor for once.
Own your words.
As the quote pretty honestly lays out, a lot of us say and do things that we believe will make us stand out. We see some pieces of reality in other media and make our thoughts known loud and clear. In many cases, we blab uninformed blasts to our audiences that seek to make us above the subjects we claim to have an expertise on. From Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck calling a college student a "slut" and "whore" respectively to some obscure morning jock going over the line on some low wage worker at their local small business because they didn't get VIP treatment because they talk on a microphone, many of our fellow broadcasters seem to have lost the reality that there are people behind those headlines and worker smocks. We forget that these are people with families, friends, histories and day to day lives. Sometimes we just talk and contribute to the poisonous atmosphere that Mr. White illustrated in his quote. When there is push back, like in the Rush Limbaugh case, a lot of our fellow broadcasters claim ignorance, humor and victimhood. Many of them blame this thing for that reason and seek some kind of blameless grace from the harmed.
According to numerous studies have proven, media personalities influence the average person to think and act. Often times media personalities create the narrative and how that narrative is to be engaged. It's not only what we say but the manner in which we say it. When media personalities make unsubstantiated claims and character assassinations from their government leased frequencies, it is to be expected that their anonymous copycat fan bases - seeking to live out their passive aggressive self righteousness - will echo those sentiments in every corner they infest. In many cases, we give credibility and rise to people tweeting "Fuck you, go kill yourself". They are not sick but just following the new societal rules of gracelessness.
Some time ago, ESPN analyst and former NBA star Jalen Rose tried to argue this point to a couple of bitter "newspaper men" and ESPN commentators - Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. Mr. Rose's point was that the level of discourse these two non athletes engage in, when they dehumanize the people they report on by calling them silly names and judging their integrity, hurt not only the person they are speaking about but their families as well. It is as if, when they are having their "takes" on some other person's character, they treat them as inhuman dolls made of straw. This in turn creates a fan base that feels it fine to engage in the same behavior against their fellow man. Unfortunately, both "men" weren't convinced to consider the ramifications of adding to this barbed wire discourse. According to them, when people lace on shoes and wear uniforms, they sign up to be treated like less than human beings. If that's the case, I hope they won't moan and blame when their words burn them. However, I won't hold my breath.
I'm not asking you do to anything or reconsider how you do what you do. I'm just asking you to, if you get burned as a result of your actions, is to own your words. Don't hide behind this person or that influence. Don't blame the id in your brain. Stand up for yourself and what you (claim)stand for.
I say all this for you to know that I will not hide behind what I express here or anywhere else. If I'm proven wrong, I will certainly apologize. If new fact come into a clearer view, I will acknowledge it and readjust.
I will own my words.