The BIG Picture: The kid gloves come off

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John O'Connor, Editorial Director
John O'Connor, Editorial Director

When I started here, friends would ask how trade publishing compared to working for a weekly newspaper. My standard reply was that journalism is journalism. But in long-term care, the people do seem to be much nicer.

And it's true. I've found that administrators, nursing directors, other providers and industry officials are remarkably pleasant. And most tend to be honest, caring people. Maybe it comes with the territory.

At first, being treated with dignity and respect by new sources caught me a bit off guard. Contacts were almost too helpful. At least when compared to aldermen who never seemed to realize so many of their relatives worked for the city, or police sergeants who had no idea why suspects kept leaving the station bruised and battered.

But even the kindness of strangers doesn't necessarily last forever. And it seems to be the Internet's fault. Yes, the online world has done much to improve the flow of knowledge and information. But it has also given wing nuts a ready venting outlet.

This emerging angry mob seems intent on snuffing out any thoughts that don't align with their particular prejudices. Recently, it was my turn to feel the wrath of one of these scriveners. Apparently, he took issue with my August column “Preaching to the choirs” after it appeared on our Web site. The irony is that the piece was about how people are reluctant to embrace change. He seemed most upset that I had the gall to address the issue at all. That was enough to have me branded as both “naïve” and a “liar.”

Even though I've been at this game for a while, the words still carried some sting. It was almost as if I was getting a crash course in Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief:

Denial: Surely this guy can't be referring to me?

Anger: Why me? Isn't there a dog he could be kicking instead?

Bargaining: Maybe this comment was really intended for one of my colleagues.

Depression: This bums me out. I write a helpful column and this is the thanks I get?

Acceptance: OK, he's had his say and I'm still standing. I can go back to writing columns he doesn't like. And he can go back to scowling.

It's great that the Internet is giving us quicker access to news and information. But sometimes there can be unpleasant consequences. One is that it is easier than ever for spoilers to go into attack mode.