I am one of the millions of people who are sucked into the Academy Awards each year. Thanks to social media, they have become even more fun to watch, since with social media you are never alone watching them. Naturally, everyone has an opinion, and Twitter, Facebook, and a couple glasses of wine always give us the courage to really say what we think. I think most of the conversations were disagreements! For some reason it’s always more fun to argue than agree, especially about creative topics.
Even with my watchful eye, I follow way too many people and hashtags to catch everything that goes by. However, that is what retweets are for. Not everything slides under the radar on the internet for very long. This is how the satire-news site The Onion got into a little hot water Sunday night.
For those who are not familiar (and even those of you who are), I would like to repeat: The Onion is a satirical news site. It’s fake, and most of the time, pretty tasteless. So how could a well-known satire site that always tries to up the shock factor possibly get in trouble? Well, by this tweet. Warning, it’s definitely “R” rated and not for work. Or children. Or those who are offended easily (who also probably do not read the Onion).
My first reaction was the same as everyone else. Too far! You don’t say that about a 9 year old! The nerve! Where’s the decency? Apparently the entire world (i.e. Twitter) wanted the offending tweeter’s head on a pike. It is definitely a fine line between a parody and just being an offensive jerk. It caused so much controversy that The Onion actually had to issue an apology.
That’s what made me rethink the entire thing. The Onion, satirical news site, apologized for doing what they do on a daily basis. Here’s a sampling of headlines from their website:
*While I’m Glad I Won, I Personally Believe Abraham Lincoln Deserved To Die (“written” by Daniel Day-Lewis)
*Sonny Bono Foundation Prevents At-Risk Youths From Skiing Into Trees
*In Focus: Parents Of Suicide Victim Saw It Coming A Mile Away
*Oscars Fashion Report: Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In
Now, granted I am more tolerant than most when it comes to language. I personally don’t believe that there is bad language, only appropriate places to use certain language. I tend to be colorful with my language, but you certainly aren’t going to hear it in a client meeting or at a conference. If MSNBC had tweeted the same thing as the Onion? Probably not the best of ideas. It’s not their normal policy, so yes there should be action taken (I’m not even mentioning all of the radio hosts out there that work for major news outlets who routinely offend on a daily basis, and never have to worry about losing their job). But the Onion? Honestly, I don’t feel an apology was necessary. It’s what they do. That’s the point.
I was on Twitter following along while watching the Oscars, and I didn’t even know this happened until the next day when I read the post from Social Media Today. That leads me to think that unless you were completely glued to Twitter and caught the re-tweet, a lot of people didn’t see it either. It certainly wasn’t a story the local 10pm news talked about. I think this was made out to be a bigger deal than it needed to be.
There is a lesson in this though. A reminder that what you say online stays there. Once you hit “send”, it can’t be undone. For those of us who do not run satirical websites that borderline on vulgar, it’s good to remember that as you’re typing status updates.
I’d love to know what you think, not just about this, but about appropriate use of language in different contexts. Comment below, or over on the Facebook page!