Thursday, November 3, 2011

Herman's Monster

We all have scary monsters in our closet. And as we get older, some of them get scarier.

Take Herman Cain’s alleged monsters, the ones that are about to rip the heart right out of his campaign. When they got shoved in the closet in the late-1990s, they were just rambunctious little indiscretions, hardly worth the salary of a mid-level trade association staffer. But when they busted out and tore the roof off of the Herminator’s campaign bus, they unleashed a multi-million-dollar fiasco that threatened the very foundation of Cain’s “renew the USA” campaign tour.

It was as if a drunken Gremlin stumbled into an "After-Midnight All-You-Can-Eat Buffet/Hot-Tub Party." (Under 35? Cick here.)

Unfortunately, this happens all the time because people constantly conflate “socially acceptable” and “appropriate.”
Actually, we probably
already have "White
Entertainment Television." 
A lot of inappropriate behavior is socially acceptable (at least among freinds). "Great shindig, Gov! Wait'll I tell the boys where I stayed this weekend -- the “N-word-head” lodge! Yee-haw!!"
Conversely, a lot of reasonable behavior is socially unacceptable. "All I'm saying is that if we accept a 'Black Entertainment Television' network then we can't oppose a 'White Entertainment Television' net ..." SMACK! "... Dang, that hurt!!"
And as social mores evolve (usually for the better), that once-minor faux pas packed away in 1974 explodes into a major PR nightmare when viewed through 2011 spectacles.
Ask former-Senator Minority Leader Trent Lott, speaking of spectacles. His heart-felt toast at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party would have earned him plenty of Huzzahs! and backslaps in 1948. But 2002 America wasn't buying it. Now the poor bastard has to eke out a living as a K Street lobbyist. Bless his heart. 
So here's the lesson: When communicating a message, be empathetic. Always consider how your behavior—or your client's behavior—affects the person it is directed to. If that little voice in your head says, "I think I might be upsetting her," you need to stop. 
"I just wanted help
finding a job."

Once upon a time, you could count on your monsters staying safely locked away, unless you were foolish enough to run for president. But thanks to the Internet, the less-empathetic things you do today are just waiting to pop out at the least opportune time.
So it is important to behave in a manner that is socially acceptable for all generations. It's really very easy. The trick is to put yourself in the other person's FaceBook post. Otherwise, that's where your monsters will end up.

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