Thursday, January 31, 2013

When a Pastor's Bad Behavior in Public becomes Public

Very interesting story making the rounds on social media. 

First an Applebees server posted a picture of a pastor's rather snotty note on a receipt "I give 10% to God why do you get 18%?" and identifies themselves as a pastor.

So that alone sets off a firestorm on social media.  And reveals the dirty little secret that I learned from working as a waitress at Bob's Big Boy on Van Nuys Blvd (yes the very same street cruised in American Graffiti)  - Servers always dread the Sunday after church crowd.  They are the most demanding and the worst tippers.  This is apparently still as true as it was back in the late 70s when I was schlepping food.  And it brought about discussion among Christians about how if are going to publicly identify ourselves as Christians we darn well better do as we say because if we don't people notice, and nowadays they put it Reddit or YouTube.

It also stimulated a discussion about justice and how unfair it is that wait staff are usually paid less than minimum wage and how if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out.  

Oh it got worse.  The pastor identified on the receipt called Applebees and demanded everybody involved including the manager be fired.  The server (who was not the one who served the pastor) who put the receipt online was fired. 

Then the pastor was identified and it turned out the grumpy old white man most of us were imagining was actually an African American woman.  Which is only relevant in that we imagined something different.  Anyway apparently her reputation was ruined -
Pastor Who Left Sanctimonious Tip Gets Waitress Fired from Applebee’s, Claims Her Reputation Was Ruined

 I know, we are all weeping profusely for her in mock sympathy. 

It's a brave new world we are in. On the one hand, publishing her name on a a receipt was a violation of privacy.  On the other hand, when you write a note and identify yourself as a pastor, it would be fair to assume that you stand by your note and feel justified in doing what you are doing and should not be "humiliated" by other people knowing what you did.   When you put on the collar, you kind of let go of your right to privacy.  On another hand, people can really be vicious when judging others--especially when anonymous online. We don't know anything about this pastor other than she resented having to pay a mandated 18 percent gratuity that is added to group bills.

It also points how easily servers can be fired based on the complaint of customers.  It might give us all pause before we decide to complain about bad service.  Was it really so bad that it is worth someone losing their job over? 

It behooves all of us to remember that what we do in public may end up being even more public than you think.  This may end up being a good thing, maybe we will regain a good sense of shame that will make behave better if we know everyone is watching.  But whether or not it is good thing is moot, it is the world we live in now.  For better or worse. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spoilers and Social Media

Back in the 90s I followed and discussed figure skating with other fans on Usenet (who remembers that?).  And people would go to live competitions and post the results.  Since it wouldn't be broadcast till days later (at least in those days they did broadcast most of the competitions) it was etiquette to post SPOILER in the header so people could skip the post pretend like the TV broadcast was live and experience the suspense.  But of course, especially during the Olympics people would get all excited and post TARA WON! and then everyone would excoriate them for "ruining" the Olympics for them.  Or they would cry because they went on the internet and there was a headline about the results.  Even then I was like, dude, it's news, stay home and turn everything off if you don't want to know.

Now it's Downton Abbey.  Seems like everyone is watching it.  Some didn't catch on right away and are trying to catch up on previous seasons on DVD or Itunes.  And some people think the rest of us are not supposed to talk about the latest episode.  Or "warn" them with spoilers.  I'm sorry I think that's really really unrealistic.  This is social media.  The fun part of social media is talking about stuff AS IT HAPPENS.  

It's not that I'm unsympathetic.  The people in the UK are ahead of us and I found out something that is going to happen that I wish I didn't.  But I never let that spoil the show  for me.  See, reason why we are all hooked on Downton Abbey is that it is a soap opera.  Some people who never watched soaps before are just discovering just how addicting that kind of entertainment can be. It's well acted and well written, but it's a soap.  Which means you can pretty much predict what is going to happen.  I knew Edith was going to be left at the altar before the wedding and as soon as they started arguing about taking Sybil to the hospital I knew she was going to die.  And I STILL cried.  

For that matter I knew Fantine was going to cut her hair, have her teeth pulled out, become a prostitute and die and I STILL cried.

So if you are friends with me on facebook and follow me on twitter - be warned.  I'm going to talk about Downton Abbey next Sunday.