Fight on the Twitter Playground

playground-bullyingI remember those days back on the playground in 3rd grade where everyone wanted to be cool. If you got into an argument with someone bigger than you, you had three options.

  1. Try to outwit your opponent and win the argument (or the fight depending on how things escalate)
  2. Sincerely apologize and hope your opponent backs down (depending on how much you riled him up)
  3. Go tell the teacher

The first two options are the choices that most people make and while it was considered more cool to stay and fight, apologizing wouldn’t hurt your coolness factor too much. That #3, however, was a social status killer. Those were the kids that no one wanted to hang out with.

Yesterday I saw an actual fight (verbal fight) on the Twitter playground. And yes, Twitter really is one BIG virtual playground. Loren Feldman (@1938media) and Jessica Gottlieb (@jessicagottlieb) got into a fairly heated back and forth which sent ripples (albeit, small ripples) through the Twittersphere.

Loren is a well known video blogger and web 2.0 commentator who is famous for his lack of restraint when stating his sometimes controversial opinions. In other words, he doesn’t hold back. Jessica, from what I understand, is a Mommy blogger who has a significant following on Twitter and is a social media strategy consultant.

The scuffle began, from my understanding, when Jessica wrote this tweet.

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After that, Loren replied.

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What ensued was a back and forth of nasty name calling. No big deal really. A typical day on the Twitter playground. Loren doesn’t liked to get pushed around and has no problem having it out with people who annoy him. Jessica seems to be the same.

Then things changed when Jessica, in so many words, called Loren’s wife a prostitute. Loren went ballistic. Understandably so. Jessica crossed a line that most people know not to cross. I happen to have spent some time with Loren and his wife, Michelle, a couple months ago. Not only did I get along with both of them and had a great time hanging out, I found Michelle to be an extremely sweet person and it’s understandable why Loren would get so angry at such an accusation.

That accusation prompted this video on Loren’s 1938media site. The attack dogs of both followers got involved in attacking the other side (even though I think Loren’s fans seemed much more aggressive). The end result was that Jessica eventually apologized (sort of) on her blog and seems to want to move on. Loren, true to his style, doesn’t seem to back down as easily.

So what can we learn from this exchange?

  1. Twitter is a playground with significant cliques. Don’t mess with somebody you don’t know.
  2. If you do mess with someone you don’t know, expect to be hit back harder.
  3. Even though Twitter is digital, the traditional social rules of confrontation rules still apply. In other words, feel free to attack someone but don’t go after their family. Once you cross that line, you’ve left your family open for cheap shots.
  4. If you say something that you shouldn’t have, be an adult and apologize as quickly and sincerely as possible.

What I found to be the strangest part of this back and forth was Jessica’s apology. In it she wrote that Loren’s posts made her Mom cry. If my daughter talked the way Jessica did to Loren initially, I’d be incredibly embarrassed as a parent. I’m guessing her Mom crying has nothing to do with Loren’s posts. That leads us to our last lesson.

     5.  Don’t let your Mom read your tweets unless you’re ready for your Mom to REALLY read your      tweets.

I don’t know if there will be any further confrontation between these two but if you start to see Twitter get involved, you’ll know somebody told the teacher.

14 Comments

  1. Almost.

    I talked about his wife after he said this.

    http://twitter.com/1938media/statuses/2264088540

    So yeah, almost.

  2. Ely Rosenstock

    @Jessica Gottlieb
    That is mean. But from what I’ve read he was saying that because you used a blog post as a promotion for another company (not sure if it’s true). Regardless, that’s his style. He’s in-your-face abrasive. You went after his wife. That’s a whole new level.

  3. @Ely Rosenstock
    so he calls me a whore and I do what? Say “thank you very much may I have some more?”

    There’s nothing social about it. and I’m sick of it.

  4. Ely Rosenstock

    @Jessica Gottlieb
    You ignore it. You’re an adult, not a child. I don’t even understand why you would even bother replying to him to begin with. You were continuing the dialogue. I don’t even understand why would start up with him. It’s like you were looking for a fight.

  5. She was looking for a fight. She wanted the free publicity. Well, she got it. And she sure as heck is going to continue getting for a long time to come… I personally cannot wait for the carnage.

  6. Jared

    @Ely Rosenstock I really have to disagree. He’s been calling her a whore repeatedly for ages. She finally struck back with something she thought would hurt.

    What she did not to was threaten to destroy him and his family and enlisting an army of helpers to do it.

    He crossed the line into psychosis, and I don’t blame her for being frightened and consulting a lawyer.

    What I really don’t understand are all the people who have rushed to his defence, seemingly happy to ignore the fact that his response to her dumb insult was deranged and frightening.

  7. Jared

    @Andrew Case Seriously? So you want to see her destroyed? Because she gave him as good as he dishes out? This is what I absolutely cannot understand.

  8. Susan

    Loren’s a bitter jackass. Seriously. He’s always negative. ALWAYS. So Jessica was right about him in the very first post. People hate him. All he does is make fun of people and try to tear them down. It’s tiring. I don’t understand why he’s seen as such a “web innovator.”

  9. Ely Rosenstock

    All I’m saying is that Jessica should know what she’s getting into. I don’t know Jessica at all and I don’t know Loren so well either. But from what I know of Loren, he’s not one to back down from a fight. The only people stupid enough to start a fight with him usually regret it. Not because they’re right or wrong but because Loren won’t back down.

    In this case, Jessica had every opportunity to let things go but instead she kept on escalating the rhetoric to a point where she called his wife a whore. From what I’ve read, he called Jessica a whore because she gives up her blog posts for product placements (i.e. money). That’s a big difference in terminology. Loren is calling her a blogger sellout and she’s calling Loren’s wife a prostitute.

    I’m not defending Loren. As you can see, I personally don’t use language like that and am more of a peacemaker. What I’m saying is that Jessica knew what she was getting into and continued. I agree with Andrew on this one. I think she did it for the attention.

  10. Susan

    Loren’s still a negative, bitter jackass – and the sooner the web stops kissing his ass, the better. Seriously, he needs therapy for his anger management issues.

    No wonder Jessica’s frightened by his threats.

  11. Ely Rosenstock

    @Susan
    I can’t speak as to whether Loren is a negative bitter jackass with anger management issues. During the time I spent with him, he seemed to be a fairly calm and mostly pleasant guy. In any case, I doubt you or anyone who knows him from the web alone can make such assumptions.

    What I think is fair to say is that Loren tends to point out a lot of negative stuff on the web. Frankly, I enjoy someone pointing out all the BS out there. Every blog and commentator I read is so positive…”my startup is the next Google”….”Facebook will cure Cancer”….”Twitter will free Iran”…it’s nice to have someone out there who points out this ridiculousness. If you don’t like it, don’t watch him.

    And regarding this case, if you don’t like the guy, don’t start a fight, and then continue to fight with the guy. Jessica doesn’t need to call a lawyer. She needs to sincerely apologize to both Loren and his wife. Possibly…just possibly…that might help the situation. Claiming to be afraid just highlights her victimization which, my guess, would only make Loren even more determined. But I can’t speak for him.

  12. James

    Hey Ely,

    I think you’re pretty much on the money with your analysis here, it takes two to tango and neither of them handled it well.
    Jessica unnecessarily put herself on Loren’s radar with her ‘Everyone hates him’ tweet, Loren’s Lexus paid link tweet was a fair remark delivered with his trademark roughness. She went after Michelle (which apart from being a cheap shot, was pretty lazy; there are a dozen wittier, more appropriate responses that I can think of off the top of my head) and Loren lost his shit and went after her kids, followed by some of the most aggressive tweets I have ever read, all of which has probably done him some long term damage as well.

    Ultimately, if you don’t start nuttin’, there wont be nuttin’

  13. Cobas

    Funny. This is just a symptom of Jonathan Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/). Or, as I like to call it iPad (Internet Passive Aggressive Disorder).

    I don’t know either of the participants in this tragicomedy of 140 characters, but that’s irrelevant. The fact is that “calling someone out” on the internet – and on Twitter, doubly so – lacks testicular fortitude. Balls. Cojones. Beitzim.

    If someone snubs you, you have the right to be offended, but god damnit, don’t be so passive aggressive about it. You want to throw down? Throw down. Throw down in person. Waiting until you get home, and then writing about it on Twitter is just – well, see above, re: balls.

    And if you want to throw down the gauntlet afterwards in response? Go for it. But do it in person.

    The problem with people – and there are many, and this is but one in a very long list of disorders, syndromes, maladies and neuroses – is that we’re animals. Confronted with a hostile situation, our brain releases adrenaline and our bodies get ready to fight or flee. When you can yell at a person – physically, face-to-face – your adrenaline is expended. You feel better.

    When you fight on the internet, your adrenaline just sticks around. Your body’s like, “Uh, so, you’re just going to sit there and pound on your Mac’s keyboard? Really? I just released enough juice to power a friggin’ cheetah. Seriously?”

    The internet has made it easier to be passive aggressive and childish. Our body’s haven’t adjusted, and aren’t satisfied by an “all out, no-holds-barred internet flame-war.”

    It’s easy to be a douchebag online, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it’s this: sometimes you gotta just flip tables over.

  14. I have been the rounds with Jessica before, I believe it to be an internet right of passage.
    I know Jessica. I know of Jessica’s reputation but I also know her in real life.
    She loves her children and her family more than anyone I’ve come across and she can and will FIGHT TO THE DEATH for them.
    It was wrong on her account to pull his wife into it, if people are going to twitter fight significant others and family need to and must be left out of it.
    Same goes for Mr. Feldman.
    These are two STRONG personalities on twitter and on the internet in general. Everyone will forget about it in less than a month and for that very reason leave everyone not directly involved out of it.

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