Being First vs Being Right

I get these SmartBriefs that update me on topics of interest, like ethics, leadership, entrepreneurship etc.  It’s how I keep up with things and manage to stay current on business news and world events.  On April 16 I got a Social Media SmartBrief that talked about the impact of social media related to the Boston Marathon bombing.  The title was “Social Media provides comfort, information after Boston bombing.”  The titles are what usually grab me or influence me to open the email. This time was no different, but another sentence in the summary just absolutely shocked me.   And got me thinking again about the decline in ethical values of our society today.

This snippet of information said that people flock to Facebook and Twitter in times of crisis or tragedy. People are looking for information, trying to find their loved ones, and generally sharing their grief and anger at the world.  However, the article quoted a line from an editorial in the Boston Globe that said the online comments this time, for the Boston bombing, were “more restrained, and generally more accurate…. It seemed that, for one day, being first had taken a backseat to being right.”

To quote the texting vernacular, OMG! Is it really more important to be first than to be right? Hello??!  What is wrong with this picture? I’m glad – really glad – that people wanted to be more accurate “this time.”  But shouldn’t we want to be more accurate ALL THE TIME, not just THIS TIME???! Help me understand this, folks.  I’m shaking my head wondering if there’s any chance of maintaining a semblance of ethical behavior in this world.

My heart aches for all those who were injured in the bombing and for the families of those killed.  Their injuries and deaths are senseless.  I’m reassured by the strength of Bostonians and marathon runners from all over this world who said this will not stop them from returning next year. We all have to go on with our lives, although this event will change how we perceive our safety and security.  It is true that social media provides faster information than any other form of media and it’s easier to use. But my heart bleeds for the attitudes and behaviors that have us rushing for “first” instead of “honesty” and “accuracy”.  I blame social media.  It’s made the race for being first easier and more destructive because the truth no longer matters as much. So much for picking up the telephone and calling our loved ones…

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