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Your Mother Would Be Ashamed You Said That

Note: This is the third in a series of election posts.Scolding Mom and Daughter

Your mom would be ashamed at what you said on Twitter during the election. In fact, if she was like my mom, she’d probably wash your mouth out with soapy water. Welcome to the third in my series of election posts about my experiences with Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign.

A lot has been written about the tone of people’s tweets and the fact many seem to feel they can say anything here without regard to others but I found the examples our group faced during the fall election cycle truly appalling. Some choice examples:

  • “Lisa Murkowski said she regrets promising to honor the outcome of the Primary Election…I just regret that she was born.”
  • “Legal does not equal right. Murkowski was wrong. She’s running counter to the democratic tradition and she’s an ass for it. “
  • “Lisa Murkowski ought to be ashamed of herself. So childish.”
  • “I’m trying to decide who I hate, loathe, and despise more: Barbara Boxer or Lisa Murkowski.”
  • “Murkowski needs to shut her effing trap.”

There are those who may think this is okay but it seems to me that if this isn’t something you would say out loud and in public, it probably shouldn’t be said on Twitter or Facebook. And, if it is something you would say out loud and in public, maybe it’s time to think about how you interact with others.

It’s really pretty simple:

Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you.

I just have to wonder how the writers of these tweets would feel if someone spoke to them in this manner. As communicators, we have an extra obligation to make sure the words we put out are true. However, it shouldn’t just be communicators who are trying to maintain civil discourse.

Only through listening, respecting each other and working together will we solve the problems in our country and world. Only by caring about each other will we make the sacrifices we need to make in order to move forward and help others. Only by treating each other with the love, trust and compassion we expect from others will we build a better world for our young people.

So the next time you’re ready to launch off on a social network about someone else, take pause. It will likely save everyone embarrassment.

  • Type the message and walk away.
  • Come back in an hour.
  • Only then hit the send button.

You probably won’t send messages like this:

  • “Ladies and gentlemen, this woman is a snake.//insulting 2 snakes!”
  • “Lisa Murkowski is an entitled sow.”
  • “Really? That many people in Alaska can spell Murkowski?”
  • “To the Murkowski person who just called my house and said my vote for McAdams was a vote for Miller. SUCK IT!”
  • “Lisa Murkowski = the biggest idiot in the world. It is funny bc she lacks “intellectual curiosity” more than anyone. She’s jealous of Palin.”

As mentioned in part two of the series, my responsibility on the campaign included monitoring what others were saying in social media. It was interesting to watch those who disagreed with the majority of Alaskans and didn’t understand our state, trying to tell us what to do. Most mornings we reviewed social media, then discussed the campaign’s messages of the day with the communication team and then returned to another look at social media. A full evaluation through the lens of our strategy oftentimes meant not directly addressing the “antis” on social media.

What we found was most of the messages were originating from a relatively small group of individuals who were not aware of Alaska politics. While they did reach a few in Alaska, the majority of the messages did not have the capacity to affect our campaign. Obviously, we had to carefully and diligently monitor social media to make sure this remained true. As the final votes are counted this week, we’re fairly confident in our strategy. Time is of the essence in social media but sometimes it can be your friend as well.

How do you keep your cool on social media? Check your facts? Address inaccurate messages? Let’s all try to make sure our moms are still proud of all we do.

Earlier: This Election Was Personal For Me

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Coming next: A Look at Strategy and Tactics…Sticking to the Message

By |2018-03-18T22:59:59+00:00November 15th, 2010|Leadership & Networking|5 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. Angela Gonzalez November 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the post Mary! I am careful of what I say on social networking sites. Sometimes, I’ll ask myself the front page question: How would this look on the front page of the news tomorrow? Would I be proud of it? Would I be comfortable with I said?

    • mary November 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      Great point Angela. The front page test is really important too. Something else to consider us how long our social media activities stick around. Once it’s out there, it doesn’t go away.

  2. Margaret Nelson, CCBW November 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Your column brings up an interesting dilemma: what do you allow and what do you not? As a moderator of several Facebook pages, I want dialogue. But sometimes I think posts are inappropriate, as you’ve noted (past the usual four-letter language). But when I delete offending posts, subsequent posts, which have relevancy, don’t make sense. Or worse, the poster is offended and says so in worse language! But those posters don’t bother me as much as what the candidates themselves inappropriately say, especially when they want to become my government leader! In the end, I tend to allow more than less, as I believe in the people’s right to say what they think and feel. Perhaps it’s the lack of space (140 characters max) or the fact that we’ve forgotten how to write well that’s resulted in bluntness.

    • mary November 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Margaret, We battled the same thing. And, I believe we will all battle it for some time. In the end, I believe the dialogue and engagement is critical. It was also reassuring when your own fans defended your posts for you. Maybe that’s something to think about on your pages too.

  3. Gina Romero November 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Mary. It’s tough because we are all so passionate about certain things and Social Media allows us to share things that are on our minds at that very moment. However, just because we can share doesn’t always mean we SHOULD share. I’ve certainly scaled back on what I say, this post reminds me why.

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