Yesterday morning I attempted to make oatmeal for myself for breakfast. I say attempted because I somehow messed it up. I undercooked the stuff and it was rather…grainy. I was disgusted with my efforts at making one of the easiest things on the planet, so I tweeted:
“How hard is it to make oatmeal? Only I could mess it up.
Well, it turns out I’m not the one. My friend Sean responded by forwarding me a tweet from Chef and Food Network host Alton Brown from just the prior morning. The tweet was merely a link to this photo:
Now, honestly, I didn’t really feel that bad about messing my oatmeal up, but seeing this made me feel better. I love watching the Food Network and the chef hosts on the network always seem to whip up these amazing creations rather effortlessly in a short period of time. But they mess up. They burn things. They make things that are too thick, too watery, or just plain ugly. But we don’t see it. Alton Brown’s public confession was not only fun, but comforting.
As individuals and businesses using the Internet and social media, we seem to be a bit more prone to making mistakes, and when we make them, they are public. Gone are the days of messing up in front of just three people. We make mistakes in front of the world, in ways that can be shared, retweeted, or captured on video or in a photo. Some of these can even lead to a bit of a social media crisis online.
In this election season, it would be refreshing to hear a candidate own his gaffes and simply utter,
I made a mistake. I was wrong.
But somehow we perceive admitting our mistakes as a sign of weakness. But maybe that’s what we as consumers and the general populace want: humanity, frailty, and weakness. Because when people do that, it shows us that they are just like us: human, frail, and weak.
None of us is perfect. Even the experts make mistakes. We mess things up, we do stupid things, we open our mouths too soon.
When you make a mistake, own it. Admit it. Claim it. Apologize. And do so in the same forum in which you made the mistake. If you tweeted something stupid, own it on Twitter. If you mess up on Facebook, correct the situation there.
It’s time to let go of our pride and remember that everyone makes mistakes. By trying to look perfect, we only look foolish.
And by the way, as a result of my friend’s tweet, I am now following Alton Brown on Twitter, and I suggest you do the same. His tweets are generally just links to pictures he has taken. He has found his own unique way to use Twitter, and even answers culinary questions from his fans via images, and it seems to be working well for him.
Have you ever had to own up to a mistake? Do you have any advice for those who make mistakes?
- Saucy or Stale? Alton Brown Defies Twitter With Weird Post-it Notes (wired.com)
- Lessons from Kansas City Chiefs Social Media Blunder (v3im.com)