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It's a Mad World

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If you need a soundtrack for this post, here it is from Tears For Fears.

I think the world is going mad. And I really REALLY hope I’m wrong about it.  The evidence I’ve accumulated over the past two weeks, however, points to an alarming trend.

First, I read Jonathan Fields post called PR Gone Bad: How to Anger Bloggers and Hose Your Client. In it, he relates an email conversation he had with a book publicist pitching a book he wanted Jonathan to review on his blog.  The initial pitch was handled badly and when Jonathan responded with a polite but firm “take me off your list”, the publicist’s behavior digressed from sophomoric to ill-mannered and astonishingly unprofessional (as well as disconnected and old-school.)  No need for me to go into the gory details because you read those yourself.

Next came astonishing rudeness in one of the last bastions of propriety – the United States House of Representative during a Presidential address. Regardless of political inclinations, I expect my elected officials to conduct themselves with dignity, respect and nice manners. Yelling out ANYTHING – much less an accusation – in the middle of a presidential speech is, as My Mother the English Teacher would say “Rude, crude and boorish.”

Then we had the now famous “Ima let you finish” interruption at the MTV video awards.  Since when has behaving like a bully and a brat on national television gone with Rock Star status? I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to feed that video any more energy than it has already sucked out of the world.

And we aren’t done.

My friend Nick Benas posted one of the most arrogant voicemail messages I have ever heard. A VERY famous player in the licensing world left it for him when he refused to play the way this person wanted him to. You can listen to it here . This is the way we now conduct ourselves in business? By talking to people like this?

And then, over the weekend, I watched someone on Twitter whom I respect a great deal get publicly lambasted and physically threatened by a so-called guru and author because he had the nerve to call “bull-shit” on something this famous person published on his blog. I was stunned as I watched it play out real-time.  The most redeeming part of the conversation was watching my colleague conduct himself like a gentleman in the face of it all.

And yet, I am still left wondering – is this what we’ve devolved to?  What has happened to maintaining dignity and choosing to behave with manners and self-respect? When did we start allowing self-serving bad attitudes to have a place at the table in business – or in life for that matter?  Why are there people running companies who think making others feel small is a success strategy? And do the perpetrators actually think they will go unexposed?

I have more questions today than answers. And I am hoping that our conversation here will help me make sense of it all.

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