Tuesday, May 21 was a rough day here at the Weekly's headquarters in Tucson's beautiful airport-adjacent area. Nothing unmanageable, but we were short two employees, the issue wasn't exactly coming together on deadline day, I had somewhere I needed to be at 8 p.m. and my phone was buzzing every few minutes with an alert from Facebook that someone was posting on our wall about the March on Monsanto. And the same message every time: "ARE YOU COVERING THIS?" then a link to the event's Facebook page. No context, no personal query, just relentless spamming of our social media space.
So, in a bit of a cranky outburst, I posted a request on our wall that the spamming stop. Yes, I had seen the messages and we'd make our decision on whether to cover the march or not. I also added "xoxo" to the end, because I tend to do that when I'm typing something on the terse side. I guess I think that's funny.
That might not have been the best idea.
That post raised the ire of the March crowd, which was not terribly surprising or troubling, as they spouted off that I don't care about the readers (not true), that the Weekly is taking money from Monsanto (not true), and that the "xoxo" part was unprofessional (probably true, but I also won an award three days before for a blog post where I suggested that Arizona's economic woes could be solved by bringing the porn industry to our state, so unprofessional is a little relative in alt-weeklydom).
However, I did not expect to end up as a cautionary tale on how not to use social media on the journalism-focused blog Romenesko. But, on Wednesday morning, there I was, complete with some kind suggestions from total strangers who seemingly don't read our paper that I should lose my job.
So, I probably should have just kept my mouth shut, closed off posts to our Facebook wall and just moved on. However, I'm not really sorry that I wrote that post (well, maybe the "hugs and kisses" part) and I'll probably end up saying something on social media that doesn't go over well again. I'm really thankful for the opportunity to interact with our readers on Facebook and Twitter, even the anti-GMO crowd, although I would have definitely preferred hearing that message once or twice and with an actual personal touch. What was oddly hurtful about this whole saga was when people wrote that I clearly don't care about readers and their opinions. If you ask my wife, I probably care too much, checking Twitter far too frequently to see if someone mentioned the Weekly. I answer reader emails during dinner on occasion. I really need to improve my boundaries, but I'd rather err on the side of openness over the fear of being too interactive.
Once More, Without Feeling