Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott
Every day I check the internet for news. I’m looking for real news—like the kind of stuff that steers the direction of the world or announces advances in science that will cure some awful condition I might get one day. Instead of the hefty stories I’m looking for, I much too often see headline after headline talking about how some poor sap feels he was mistreated on a plane, in the local coffee shop, or at work. He was asked to leave, he was overcharged, he’s being forced to follow the rules of the contract he signed when he took the job, etc., etc. Gah!
At first I would read the articles in their entirety. Then I started skimming them. Then I just got irritated. When it finally dawned on me that the media outlets reporting such things wouldn’t know about these situations unless someone brought it to their attention, I got really irritated. Let me explain why.
First, you should know that I’m a big proponent of speaking up. I’m not one to sit back and watch bad behavior and not say something. I’ve never been that way so if someone is poking someone else in the eye, I’m fine to tell them to stop no matter how big and scary they look. If someone is cheating on a test and I know about, I believe I have a responsibility to say something to the teacher. If I encounter a troublesome situation with a company, I am the first one to reach out to customer service to get it resolved because I believe that if an organization doesn’t know about such things they can’t fix them. Bottom line—you don’t get to behave badly around me and watch me walk the other day without a word. So, why do I become so irked over these media stories?
To me there’s a difference between calling out bad actors for the benefit of the greater good and tattling on someone with the intention of being unfairly rewarded. And, that’s exactly what I think is happening with the tattletale epidemic. Something didn’t go your way? Alert the media! Without trying to resolve an issue professionally and privately we seem to be immediately heading to social media and then sitting back to wait for the big check to arrive.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really disappointed in this approach. It feels one-sided and selfish and, well, just wrong. It also feels lazy and dishonest. So, because I mentioned earlier that I’m not one to sit back and not say anything, I guess this is my way of publically calling out the tattletales. And, no, the irony is not lost on me.
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