Thursday, May 8, 2008

Unintentional consequences of social media

Yesterday I tweeted about an incident involving one of my favorite food establishment and an unfortunate outbreak of Hep A. It wasn't a store in my local area. I had no immediate connection to the happenings and I'm honestly not at all concerned it can/will happen to me, though it certainly could. No, I tweeted it out because I wanted to bring the funny, and by accounts from others I was successful in my mission.

But it bugged me all day.

Food-born illness is a serious concern in our way life. I get that. But there isn't a doubt in my mind that the incident mentioned was isolated and in no way linked to the food handling standards of the institution. Forgive the pun, but shit happens. It's not an epidemic. It's not a blatant violation of safety standards. It's probably one lone (again pardon the pun) dipshit responsible -- and likely not intentional. Mass-hysteria isn't the best reaction. Calls for company-wide investigations and more strict regulations of the entire industry (yes, I read Fast Food Nation) probably aren't going to help curb this in the future. As I said before, shit happens.

Yet I propagated the story via my tweet, lending fuel to the fire and my name to a growing list of pundits and activists demanding someone take action. I didn't want to do that. I don't feel that way. I just wanted to be funny. (And no, I'm not linking to the tweet. You can back up in my Twitter stream to find it if you must. It wasn't that funny).

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