Bad Taste

By | September 27th, 2018

The torrent of instant and snarky responses to what was a well-intended and fairly innocent message from Trump National GC Hudson Valley, even if it was greatly exaggerated because of who the sender was, serves as another cautionary tale for online and social-media strategies.

Joe Barks, Editor, Club & Resort Business

Ten years ago, the humor publication The Onion ran one of its mock “articles” under the headline, “Local Idiot Plans to Post Comment on internet.” The “article” went on to describe how a 26-year-old man from Michigan had issued a “statement” to reporters that at 2:30 AM that evening, he planned to “click the ‘reply’ link above the box for user comments and draft a response, being careful to put as little thought into it as possible.

“While I do not yet know exactly what my comment will entail, I can say with a great degree of certainty that it will be incredibly stupid,” the man’s “statement” continued.

Unfortunately, The Onion’s satire rings even more true a decade later, as the culinary team at the Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., discovered last month.

Like a lot of club staffs are doing these days, the culinarians at this Trump property were proud of a dish they had created and decided to share a photo of it via Twitter as part of a promotion for membership at the club, along with a lighthearted message that said, “When your Mom said ‘Eat Your Vegetables,’ we heard her loud and clear!”

As soon as it was posted, though, the “Twitterverse” went crazy, mocking everything from the ingredients shown (“grass wrapped in a used coffee filter”) to the design of the message and the type fonts that had been used for its words (“the most disgusting thing in the photo”). And of course, one “comment” was in the form of a cat video, in this case showing the feline rejecting what it was being fed.

The original post from the Trump club was taken down within an hour, but by that time the whole thing had gone viral. That in turn spurred a flurry of breathless “news reports” about the Tweet and the comments it generated, which also noted that calls had been made to the club for comment (for one such recap, go to layer8/trump-golf-club-vegetables/).

No doubt, the fact that the Tweet was sent out by Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley, and not just Hudson Valley Golf Club, went a long way towards generating such a torrent of instant and snarky responses. Still, the hostile reaction to what was a well- intended and fairly innocent communication, even if it was greatly exaggerated because of who the sender was, serves as another cautionary tale.

Especially as even the most private clubs are taking more steps to increase their social- media and online presence, the backlash to the Trump Tweet speaks to the importance of 1) having, and always adhering to, careful internal review processes for all communications before they’re released and 2) as part of that, properly anticipating and monitoring potential consequences from those for whom messages are not intended.

As is often the case, in fact, The Onion’s satire spoke the truth about the unfortunate reality we must now deal with, and factor into our communication strategies, when its “local idiot” justified his actions by saying, “We are blessed to be living in an age when we have a network in which complete wastes of human life can come together to give instant feedback in an unfettered and unmonitored online environment.”

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