My apologies for the slight delay in my blog post. I was trying to find something of interest to discuss, possibly a new social media website but to no avail; then Greg Smith was so kind enough to inform us all of his resignation as Goldman Sachs executive director (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all) published today in the Op-Ed page of the NY Times.
Now I agree, Smith’s “honorable” (as I loosely use this term) letter of resignation has nothing to do with Social Media. Its rather the rapid reaction that has everything to do with it. This essay has gone absolutely viral. You name it and they have it; Daily Mash (http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/why-i-am-leaving-the-empire%252c-by-darth-vader-201203145007/), Minyanville (http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/financial/articles/greg-smith-goldman-sachs-quits-quitting/3/14/2012/id/39887#ixzz1p6QwNGH2), The Reformed Broker (http://www.thereformedbroker.com/2012/03/14/how-to-quit-a-job-without-publishing-an-op-ed/), have each inspired a wave of parodies; Mashable, Twitter, Facebook have each continued the conversation; every news outlet has a story on it. Anywhere you look today, someone, something will have a comment or blog to write about reflecting this editorial.
I am sure Greg Smith meant well when drafting this self-preserving essay, and in the grand scheme of things, wanted to expose the ugly side of GS, but Smith has to be feeling some form of regret now. Not only does the insider bring new attention to Wall’s Street culture, social media will continue and extend this conversation.
Ten years ago, or even five years ago, this may not have even been an issue. Smith would have said what he would have said, Times readers would have conversed amongst themselves, and Smith may have received one minute on the nightly news. However, with the advent of social media, this story has gone viral, and will continue to follow Smith for quite some time, reaching out to millions of users who may not have had access to his thoughts a couple of years back.
Similar to Rush Limbaugh’s sad attack against Ms. Fluke, social media extended and even disrupted Limbaugh’s perceived utopian way of life. Advertiser’s are continuing to flee and boycott against the conservative talk show host nearly two weeks after his slip up. Of course this isn’t the first time Limbaugh’s comments made headlines, and it doesn’t even come close to his worse (http://newsone.com/nation/casey-gane-mccalla/top-10-racist-limbaugh-quotes/), but “Twitter Bombing” has finally caught up to him, “causing the most serious rebellion against The Rush Limbaugh Show in the more than 20 years that the show has been in broadcast.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/business/media/ad-boycott-dents-limbaugh-shows-bottom-line.html?ref=business).
When will people start to think before they speak (or in Smith’s case, write)? We live in a world where the term “word of mouth” has a drastically different connotation today than what it did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20….What one does and more importantly, what one says has severe ramifications if not properly thought out. Many people in the past year alone have lost their jobs (ESPN, Fox News, MSNBC), destroyed their careers, and fined huge sums of money (all professional athletes). Will we become a more cautious society in the way we think, what we say, and how we act as social media continues to gain a dominant stronghold on society? Or will we continue to hit the send button before thinking twice about it?