It’s really funny and I think it`s really great and a sign that society is moving in the right direction but it is getting harder and harder to be a jerk these days. It used to be pretty easy to get away with because you were able to treat some people badly and suck up to the people that are important in your path to getting ahead in life. Today, the world is smaller and communication has never been better. Through blogs, micro blogging and social networks, everyone is connected from the lowest level worker to the highest executive or CEO.
In the past, companies would ignore individual customers and focus on the much larger target market. If they ran over one customer along the way, it didn`t matter because there were always plenty of others waiting in line to deal with the company. Today a single bad experience with a customer can really hurt a company. Everyone has a voice and an internet connection these days. Anyone can write a review about a company that they dealt with on hundreds of review sites and anyone can create a blog or Facebook group in response to how they were treated by the company (positive or negative although negative experience are much better fueled).
Some companies such as Comcast, DELL and Amazon.com, realize this and are turning their haters into fans and their fans into loyal evangelists. Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV is very careful about what he says to every single person he deals with and if he accidentally says something to upset someone, even completely unintentionally, he spends hours of his time apologizing to every single person involved.
In the online world, if you (or your company) are a genuinely good guy, you have very little to worry about and if something negative does come up, you can easily protect yourself by being transparent. If you are a jerk, you will end up trying to hide everything until it blows up in your face. At that point, you have very little hope of winning your audience. The public will like and respect the “good guys” for their transparency and they will really dislike the “jerks” for not being transparent. Worst of all, they will start speculating about every aspect about the jerks because it will always seem like they are hiding something.
Over the last couple of years and even over the last few months, there have been tons of politicians, athletes, executives and others exposed in the news and on blogs for being “Jerks”. Everyone has an opinion and now we can share our opinions with the world. These opinions get indexed by search engines and lead to comments and more opinions which are also indexed in search engines which save the opinions forever. It is getting much harder to hide “Jerky” behaviour from the world.
Although it has never been a good idea to burn bridges, people have always been able to burn a bridge or two over time. The burnt bridges may have in some cases, prevented them from a couple of opportunities but nothing compared what a burnt bridge can do today or what it will do to you in 5 or 10 years. Google records, indexes, maps out and allows comments on every burnt bridge with pictures and all.
The saying goes “good guys finish last”. The good guys always got the short straw and were pushed around by the jerks. Now, the tables are turning and the good guys are going to start winning. So please do yourself a favour and embrace the change, be helpful, treat everyone well and most importantly stop being a jerk!