Daily occurrences – which might not seem like a big deal at the time – may come back to haunt you. Take a recent mishap that occurred with a restaurant that asked two patrons to leave their establishment: namely because of the way they were dressed. These young patrons weren’t dressed inappropriately, mind you: body parts weren’t falling out and they apparently weren’t wearing attire with controversial slogans. These patrons just looked “different” in the eyes of the restaurant. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
The mother of one of the expelled patrons got wind of the story and was outraged. In her fury, she took to her Facebook page to vent her frustration and called out the establishment by name. As it happens, this particular mother has a dedicated, fiercely loyal, vocal and most important, huge fan following on Facebook. Her followers took matters into their own hands and began to pummel the restaurant with feedback on how the establishment handled this situation. Angry posts from these fans appeared on the restaurant’s own Facebook page in addition to those responses posted to the mom’s page. The restaurant’s Facebook page was closed the next day.
But that didn’t stop the angry crowd from its mission to level this restaurant. They next took to Yelp, a site where people can rate and comment on service providers and yes: quite commonly, restaurants. Many people rely on Yelp reviews when evaluating a restaurant. The restaurant’s Yelp page was soon ripe with one (out of five) star ratings and comments from people who were angry over the incident. Some of the people who wrote these negative comments had never even visited the restaurant where the incident took place. A restaurant employee lashed out at these negative reviews on Yelp: only making matters more heated. These exchanges have since been removed from Yelp and the restaurant’s original ratings before this controversy occurred restored.
I am not here to judge the restaurant or the fans that responded to this incident. I was not there and usually every story has at least two sides. This is a wake up call that a situation can rapidly grow to out-of-control proportions with major and sometimes very pubic consequences. The advent of social media, its reach and the speed with which information – right, wrong or indifferent – is transferred can have stunning and sometimes damaging consequences.