Monday, 18 June 2012

Why We Make Things Worse When We Should Quit

In my last blog post I wrote about how to get out of a PR disaster. Short version: stop being a prat, win your opponent over, and put on a big show of being BFFs to get the horde of internet furies off your back. This post is about what happens when you decide not to take that advice.

When you can't quit when you should there are typically two reasons, both of which are so intertwined it's hard to separate them. The first is a pride-filled hubris that insists you're in the right despite all evidence to the contrary. Your sense of justice and right won't let you let it go. "Honour must be satisfied," and all that. Pistols at dawn and it's only over when someone goes home in a box. The other is a growing addiction to publicity and drama that you feel you have to stoke to keep the attention on you. I've got two examples to share with you where the two merge so well I can't tell where one begins and the other ends.

Charles Carreon

Whether or not he was looking for publicity, he's got more than he bargained for. A lawyer who claims to be an internet specialist, his claim to fame began when he tried to shake The Oatmeal down for $20,000 over a bogus defamation claim because Matthew Inman had a bit of a rant over user-generated aggregator Funnyjunk's hosting of his comics on web pages with ads on. Inman had decided to let it slide rather than playing whack-a-mole with DMCA notices. Did I mention that this happened last year? So Carreon hit Inman last week with the letter and Inman hit back with an hilarious response that is getting The Oatmeal more hits than it's ever had before. It should have stopped there.

Carreon's bizarre attempt to shut down the fundraiser resulted in the internet firestorm that is currently engulfing him increasing in intensity, but that didn't stop him. Like a frog kicking back in a slowly boiling pot, he refuses to jump out. He's picking fights on Twitter and his wife is apparently trolling Techdirt in the comments section of two stories. It's still funny if it's not really her. Now he's suing the charities the Oatmeal supports.

Could this be anything to do with the fact that he's got a book out? I wonder how many the publicity has helped him shift? Sod all, apparently. Next up, public meltdown filmed and viral on YouTube? I'm finished here until he does something funnier and more interesting than digging himself in deeper. Oh, I've just had a thought... can you see this guy on "I'm a Celebrity?" I might watch if for the first time ever if he brings his apparently batty missus with him. As it is, the whole thing is a clown car pile-up.

Johnny Heward/Taelor Vega

Feast your eyes on the above exchange, apparently immortalized in a screenshot. Utah resident Johnny Heward apparently has an open-and-shut case against Taelor Vega for First Degree Skankage, but a closer look reveals a different story. A few hours ago I was checking out the scene on Google Plus, where I live online, talking about politics and nerd stuff. This came up:

That's what her dumb ass gets..........owwwwwwwwww (now deleted)

Deijay Mecca originally shared this post (now deleted):

The power of SCREENSHOT. I think her husband will know by the end of the day. Do your job internet!

with the above exchange displayed below for the world to see. It seemed a bit too good to be true at first, but I quickly found his FB page. When I went looking for hers I found nothing in Google search results. It would have come up in cache even if she had deleted it. And where was the conversation for us all to see? You can't really delete your FB profile, it just goes dormant. I hopped into Johnny's FB page and scrolled through the thousands of comments. Some men were lionizing him, some women were patting him on the back, and some people were calling for calm. The slut-shaming, however, has gone viral.

Here's the fun part. While Johnny is playing the part of the decent Mormon boy who turned down a booty call, the profile of the Jezebel he claims to have manfully resisted appears to have been created at about the time I hopped into the page. The fact that "Mrs Vega" has images all over the internet that are apparently stock photos is beginning to undermine his story.

Mentions of his attempts to make himself famous to promote his singing career are increasing. Let's have a look. Aha! It's true. Why is there no mention of this on his Facebook profile? Mine has me as a web designer. He's been promoting himself everywhere but on Facebook. What he has done is played on the cheated soldier husband trope to get attention for himself. I presume the idea was to promote himself as a man of integrity, and gradually introduce the idea of himself as a singer to his adoring fans.

As the truth unfolds and more people pile into his Facebook page with the results of their investigations, many of his new friends are turning on him but those who have been convinced he's doing something right are flocking to his defence. The firestorm could go in any direction but so far he's playing this as a phishing scam he's narrowly avoided. It doesn't explain his failure to mention his music on his Facebook profile, though. If you're launching a career in the public arena, you work to build a fan base and get more people on board. The last thing you do is hide your light under a bushel. I wouldn't like to be him when the fun stops and his friends all melt away and pretend they never knew him. As it is, his fame is spreading and despite the number of times I've posted the link to his musical efforts, many people are choosing to take him at his word. I'll keep an eye on this and let you know how it pans out. On G+ it seems people are already getting wise to him. There's only one post of this in my stream.

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