After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing between the “Pair of Peters” over the issue of professionalism in both the media and politics, the Premier started “Cracking the Whip” a little after it started looking like Phelps was just trying to provoke an incident with a journalist for the fun of it.
To which Phelps replied:
Now while “flame-wars” may appear to be a lot of fun, more often than not they only end in tears and a whole world of professional hurt for all parties involved. Given that Van Onselen has deleted all of but a handful of tweets on his account again due to the drama, it’s not hard to see that what was going on yesterday touched a few nerves with him. Needless to say, there’s a few lessons to be learned from incidents like this for both journalists, politicians and the general public alike.
These include –
- Don’t make things personal: Regardless of a person’s position in a political party, profession or society in general, everyone has feelings and those feelings can be hurt. More often than not, more opportunities are lost than gained when somebody decides to take disagreements to a personal level in public. Australian politicians, journalists and the general public are particularly guilty of this one on occasion. Also just because people disagree on some issues, doesn’t mean that we’re not similar on others. e.g. The ALP/Green/Coalition Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI Australians Group in Canberra.
- Once something is published online, assume someone has a copy of it: While it’s possible to delete a tweet, there’s plenty of programs and websites around today that can allow people to make a copy of anything you put online as soon as you publish it. From Google Cache through to PolitWoops, it isn’t hard to see what public figures have tweeted and then deleted if you know where to look.
- People have long memories, especially when they are offended: More often than not, people will remember grudges longer than what they will remember happy occasions. While sometimes sharp words need to be spoken, don’t burn your bridges over something that in the grand scheme of things is only of minor significance (if that) in the long-term.
- Don’t be a “Keyboard Warrior” during conversations: In the digital telecommunications era, the Internet is just as real a world as the physical one we live in everyday and will become more so over the coming decades. If you wouldn’t say something to somebody’s face, then you haven’t got an excuse to say it online. This goes for both “flame wars” and ordinary disagreements that occur both online and in the non-virtual world.
So while I’m not taking sides in this little dispute (both Peters are adults and can look after themselves anyway), there’s a lot that we can all learn from such encounters when they occur. By learning from and admitting our mistakes in both the real and virtual worlds, we can learn from such incidents and become better people as a result from them if we try hard enough.