Sunday, June 19, 2011

P. R.

I, along with any number of other people that I work with, are being asked to prove (via background checks) that we aren't potential public relations liabilities, regardless of whether or not we're good workers, because someone else has become a public relations liability. I think. All I know is that someone at the company was arrested on some rather run-of-the-mill-sounding charges, and that only because the company took it upon itself to tell me. Although I'm not a particularly active local news junkie, I do keep up with the local newspaper and Google news, and I haven't heard a peep about this.

Given that whatever event happened is fairly recent, it seems highly unlikely that anyone's been convicted of anything, so I'm curious to see what happens if the police turn out to have arrested the wrong person. (Outside, of course, of the quickly-issued sincere "apologies.")

Anyway, I find myself irritated (here we go, back to things I dislike) with the whole atmosphere surrounding this situation. The public's demand that everyone (other than the public itself) jump though hoops in the name of "public safety," while at the same time not wanting to be treated like criminals themselves, has lead to a environment where everyone is innocent until suspected guilty, at which point everyone suddenly becomes guilty until proven innocent.

I think what really bugs me is the sudden hysteria around the whole thing. I don't even know enough about what is alleged to have happened to be able to speak to it the least bit intelligently, and what little information I do have doesn't seem all that heinous, yet Damage Control is moving ahead. And we're right in the way.

And despite the fact that I understand that it's often unreasonable and/or contradictory public expectations that create fire drills like this, I'm not the least bit certain that there isn't an overreaction going on. If this is supposed to be a damaging local news story, I've managed to miss it, and so did Google news (I think). If I've got to go hunting for the information to have any chance of finding it, it seems unlikely that there would be a huge public outcry over something that seems fairly run of the mill. Still, an overreaction is the result of expectations being in excess of reality, and not all overreactions are unreasonable. So I suspect that we could still do ourselves a favor by toning down the expectation that companies will shun anyone who might be the least bit scary. Or at least the expectation that we'll look the other way until something happens to remind us that we're supposed to be scared.

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