The Twitter reactionary outrage machine got this one wrong. (What? Impossible!)
Late Monday night, the Twitter account for frozen-pizza supplier DiGiorno tweeted a Flub. A Flub is when a Twitter account blindly latches onto a trending topic and, opposite the intended result, severely embarrasses himself or herself or their brandself.
In this case, DiGiorno was hoping to have a “moment” — a “moment” is what brands lust after, an unquenchable thirst for what it hopes Buzzfeed and Mashable will deem “The Greatest Response to X” — by jumping into the viral hashtag #WhyIStayed.
Unfortunately, DiGiorno’s poor, overworked 23-year-old social media manager (… because that’s who runs #brand accounts, we assume) failed to realize that #WhyIStayed was the signifier of a resonant, emotive campaign to show support for women who stay in abusive relationships. It was tied to the terrifying video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer earlier this year. She married him a month later.
The tweet was a mistake. A bad, embarrassing, hurtful mistake. But never missing an opportunity to claim a scalp, Twitter and The Blogs attacked.
“DiGiorno Pizza Proves That Brands Should Really Just Never, Ever Tweet,” a very satisfied Policy Mic News story read.
“DiGiorno’s Unfortunate Hashtag Is Why Brands Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Tweet,” Uproxx triumphantly wrote, thereby automatically shuttering all branded accounts on Twitter.
“DiGiorno Used a Hashtag About Domestic Violence to Sell Pizza,” wrote venerable newsmagazine Time, explicitly stating that, in a Bold Marketing Move, DiGiorno is now pivoting to a “Use Domestic Abuse As A Means To Increase Sales” advertising model. We’re awaiting a fact-check on that one.
“Here’s your worst brand tweet of the week,” said Fast Company. (Okay, that one is fine.)
But while brands are terrible, the people behind them are not. It’s a distinction the Mob has struggled to make in this case, and that the Internet has failed to grasp more generally: For whatever reason — the anonymity, the lack of in-person feedback, the faux-empowerment of the computer screen — we tend to forget the humanity of anyone who offends or upsets us online. Perhaps in response to that, the deft apology tour that followed DiGiorno’s no good, very bad tweet has been exceedingly human, all first-person apologies and from-the-heart explanations.
There’s a person behind that Twitter account. That person made a mistake, and swiftly and transparently owned up and apologized for it. It was dreadful, horrible, very public mistake and error of judgment, but still nothing more than that.
But The Mob is bloodthirsty, and the Internet makes it all too easy to forget that an actual human person sweats over that account.