Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Twitter and the wrath of the lactivists

Something very interesting happened yesterday in the Twitterverse when an unwary coffee shop owner tweeted his sentiments on breastfeeding in his shop.  I'm sure he felt like it was an innocent tweet (which was since deleted) when he typed it:

Notice: No breastfeeding at the DoubleShot. Thank you.

The DoubleShot logo.
It didn't take long for the lactivist community to take noticeAfter all, it takes some guts (or, more likely, ignorance) to come up with a tweet like that during world breastfeeding week.  Soon, the pro-breastfeeding community was tweeting up a storm, vowing to never enjoy another latte at the DoubleShot and promising to support other Tulsa coffee shops.

After feeling some of the heat, Brian Franklin of the DoubleShot somehow thought that a new tweet would help smooth over the public relations debacle he was creating.

Settle down, folks. We just don't like walking across the room and seeing your breast. Maybe you could do it in private.

For the uninformed, telling a breastfeeding activist to feed her baby in private is like advising someone who is battling infertility to "just relax and it will happen."  It never, ever goes well, and it makes the person who said it look like an ignorant douchebag.

The Twitter discussion among lactivists continued to heat up, and before long some pointed out that Oklahoma law protects a mother's right to breastfeed anywhere she otherwise has the legal right to be.  
When a small business is faced with an unintended public relations debacle like this, most do the reasonable thing: they backpedal like they were biking in a reverse marathon with their crotch on fire.  Apparently the DoubleShot isn't the type of place to follow that traditional PR wisdom.  After another hour of virtual pummeling, the following tweet was offered to make everything better:

Ok ok, breastfeeding allowed again at the DoubleShot. Hey! Breastfeeding all around. :)

Followed shortly by:

I was just kidding anyway. Didn't expect that blow up. Sorry to get you guys riled up. 

Not exactly an apology.  Probably not even true.  But at least he regretted typing that original tweet, and ultimately learned his lesson, right?  

Not really.  Brian Franklin then went on to release a statement to the local news station wherein he complained about the infringement of his rights.

I don't mind if people breastfeed in the DoubleShot, but it's funny to me that people don't consider the rights of others; only their own.  If one really believes in the American dream of individual rights, they must believe in the rights of others to do or think or say things they don't agree with.   

The lactivists just wanted an apology, or maybe at least some acknowledgment that the original tweet was pretty ignorant.  Apparently DoubleShot didn't feel that was necessary.

There's a pretty important social media lesson to be learned here.  What once would have been an offhand statement heard only by a handful of people turned into a national discussion among a very vocal group of media-savvy women.  Businesses small and large need to wake up to the fact that they are what they tweet.  Public perception is everything.

And, Twitter lactivists?  I'm proud of you.  I feel like I witnessed a tiny piece of a big and beautiful revolution yesterday as this unfolded.


1 comment:

Annie Y said...

People like this idiot really piss me off. I assume he's just trying to "make a name" for himself which now screams I'm an ignorant a**hole!
Thank you for sharing this, had I been active on Twitter yesterday I'm sure I would have given my 2 cents as well!