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The Danger of Inviting In The Tiger

July 26, 2013
Artist: I.J.

Artist: I.J.

Long ago there was a farmer who had a terrible problem with rabbits eating his vegetables.

He told his friend, “I shall invite a tiger to come to my farm and he will quickly rid me of the rabbits.”

Yes, but when the rabbits are gone who will help you with the hungry tiger?

Two days ago, Laura Hudson wrote a thought provoking piece for Wired Magazine called “Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media.” She recounts the story of consultant Adria Richards who, while attending PyCon overheard some attendees making indelicate comments. She took their picture, tweeted it to her 9,000 followers with the words “Not Cool.”

The result was not what she or anyone expected. Her tweet was retweeted over 100 times. By the time the dust settled, PyCon apologized, one of the offenders lost his job and Richards lost her job.

The moral, of course is that once the accusations and recriminations start it’s hard to know where it will end. That’s the tiger. You might only want him to eat the rabbits, but when the rabbits are gone, the tiger is left with nothing to eat, and the tiger is going to eat.

Each of us has a level of online influence that we can use. Hudson’s article is an excellent reminder that while we might only be posting something for the benefit our our friends, and followers, that online content takes on a life of its own.

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