Pity City is a Click Away

Published: 2023-09-13 00:00:00

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Many things are not as they were 30 years ago, technology and how people communicate included. It is easy to accuse someone of something that in reality may or may not have happened and get the news out with a few clicks, versus the time before the internet word of mouth traveled much more slowly. Those at the top are starting to learn this lesson the hard way.

For Andi Owens, she went from someone who probably was not well known to "the talk of the town" overnight because of some insensitive things she said to her employees. In a town hall meeting that ended up being recorded and released to the general public, Owens told her workers not to focus on their bonuses, but how to bridge a sales gap. She also attempted to rally employees by encouraging them to "leave pity city" and get their jobs done. Unfortunately for her, not only was her speech not taken as an encouragement, but it was recorded and shared online shortly after it was made. Also unfortunately for her, information about her net worth, salary, and bonus are available online and the narrative quickly turned from "tone-deaf CEO" to "out of touch Harvard graduate doesn't understand how normal people live".

Was it fair? Maybe, maybe not. Was the medium in which the information spread to blame for the response by workers? More than likely, yes.

Imagine the only way you can get information from an in-person meeting with your boss is a phone call that has to go through an operator. Everything you say is technically hearsay because there is no video and you need witnesses to prove what was said. Or even imagine the same scenario without screen recording tools and Facebook or LinkedIn. Sure, you have your trusty flip phone you recorded the meeting with, but the video is grainy and probably too large to share over email.

The tools we have now give everyone access to things that used to be more private due to the lack of technology in those spaces. Now, with high resolution tools to communicate virtually in everyone's hands, information can travel quickly and events such as this one can quickly get out of hand.

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