A Social Media Gaffe Destroyed Her Business. Learn From Her Mistake

A little bit over a year ago, Sara Christensen’s business, Kickass Masterminds, went up in smoke. Not literal fire, but in the fire of an angry virtual mob–a mob that forced her to go into hiding (she’s still not comfortable sharing her location), threatened her life and attacked her clients. The death threats were so credible that the FBI began investigating.

Why?

Because she made a social media mistake. Granted, it was a big mistake. While Christensen maintains she only meant to give future job seekers guidance, what the rest of the world saw was an attack on a young job applicant, Emily Clow.

To keep reading, click here: A Social Media Gaffe Destroyed Her Business. Learn From Her Mistake

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10 thoughts on “A Social Media Gaffe Destroyed Her Business. Learn From Her Mistake

  1. Not exactly “cancel culture” if she’s created a whole new business out of it. Especially since the business is not “how not to be a terrible person” but “how to manage it when you are a terrible person and it happens to go viral.”

    She’s learned nothing. And you just gave her a platform and a marketing boost. I wonder if that poor young job seeker found a job after all?

    1. That’s a pretty harsh take on things. It’s a basic tenant of critical thinking that we can’t assume that the angry mob is always right. The fact that there’s an angry mob doesn’t prove that someone is a terrible person; I’ve seen a lot of situations where there was legitimate debate on an issue, and one side got the crowd on their side, and suddenly the person on the other side–who yesterday was considered reasonable–is considered terrible.

      Sometimes the crowd is going to be wrong. The crowd is fickle, and those it places on thrones today it’ll place in a noose tomorrow (see the fate of Admiral Byng). Knowing how to handle it when you’re the target is important for a business.

      As for the person in question: She did a dumb thing. She got punished for it. Now she’s taking the lessons she learned through that experience and helping others who may find themselves in similar situations. That’s hardly someone who’s “learned nothing”. Did she learn that what she originally did was wrong? No clue. The article doesn’t make that clear (or else I missed it). But she has practical experience dealing with angry internet mobs, which is a marketable skill.

      My guess is that the poor job seeker found a job. The publicity alone would help, and the company that hired her would get credit for doing so in the mind of the mob.

      1. What she did was stupid. But it was also simply WRONG – it was inappropriate in a way that a business owner should have understood, it was arrogant and it was flat out mean.

        And, from what she says it really seems like she still doesn’t get it – unless some content or context got edited out of the article.

        1. You missed my point entirely. First, we do not–as you admit–have the full context. What we know is 1) she did a thing, 2) she experienced backlash, and 3) she used that experience to build a business helping others navigate similar backlashes. Interpretations regarding whether she’s sufficiently rehabilitated or not are based, not on evidence provided in the article, but on the reader’s preconceptions. That is fallacious reasoning, pure and simple.

          It’s my fault for responding to the attacks against this woman in my last two paragraphs. It’s a fault because it’s entirely irrelevant to the purpose of this article. Unless we accept the idea that saying something wrong warrants destroying someone’s life to the point where they can no longer run a business, her past is only relevant in as much as it informs us on her capacity to provide the expertise she says she is providing (obviously if you’re considering hiring someone to help manage this sort of social media firestorm your criteria for evaluating her as a consultant will be different).

          How much punishment is warranted for her actions? That’s something we as a culture haven’t come to terms with. I’m of the opinion that if she stopped shaming people on social media, we can all move on with our lives. I see nothing problematic with leveraging this experience into a new business. If you do, please explain why–and “She once said something that was wrong!” isn’t sufficient.

      1. Some people would advocate the death penalty for parking tickets. Normal people do not agree.

  2. The important lesson here, I believe, is for HR and management. There are now lots of “crybully” groups on the Internet who get “triggered” for little or no reason (or because you disagree with them online), who can quickly assemble an “outrage mob” and try to get your boss to fire you, your landlord to evict you, Internet providers to delete your account, and all manner of organizations to expel you. And in nearly all cases the complaints the “outrage mob” makes about you are complete lies. (These are the people who consider all Republicans to be “Nazis”, “racists”, and “dangerous white supremacists.” And they have no compunctions about calling their opponent a terrorist or child molester if it will accomplish their goals.)

    So if you’re the one receiving the outrage call or e-mail, don’t take the caller at their word. Preserve a record of it and talk to the person accused. Or even just laugh and forget it.

    1. We’re not really talking about Nazis, racists, White supremacists, terrorists, pedophiles, Qanons, etc., here, but simply a person who decided to pillory someone on the Internet and — instead — got pilloried herself. Regarding those other extremists you cited, I doubt there will be too many crocodile tears shed if they get fired, evicted, booted off the Internet or expelled from organizations. Actions have consequences. Those who live by social media sometimes — only figuratively, of course — “die” by it.

  3. I think this is also an excellent example showing why you should lock down your social media accounts so that they are not public. If the job seeker had set her privacy so only those she allowed to see her feed could see it, none of this would have happened. As an HR professional I don’t even have a Facebook account, as the hazards are too many – would I like to track down and keep in touch with old friends? Yes. But not having FB keeps me out of a lot of sticky situations. My $0.02 worth.

    1. What exactly was her picture telling future job prospects? The only thing I can see she is telling them is that she swims.
      The woman made a mean and senseless post shaming the job seeker. It’s clear that she knows nothing about social media, much less how to behave civilly so why would anyone want to hire her company now that she has pivoted?

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