Star Wars Kid Case Shows The Ugly Side Of Word Of Mouth

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With all of the good, there is always the bad. Yesterday, I was busy promoting a word of mouth article I wrote for Marketing Magazine (Marketing Magazine Features Building Le Buzz) and today, I wonder how many people are hurt and forever damaged when someone uses communities and online technologies for the purpose of evil.
While reading The Globe And Mail newspaper this morning, I came across this article: ‘Star Wars Kid’ Cuts A Deal With His Tormentors. It is all about a kid who lives in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (which is not that far from Montreal) and a video of him goofing around. Some of his “friends” at school discovered the video tape, digitized it and let it loose on the Web. It is know as the Star Wars Kid clip. It was tremendously viral.
The kid sued and the case has been settled, but his life has been forever changed. We all know that kids can do some pretty cruel things.
Here’s a quote from the Globe And Mail article, ‘Star Wars Kid’ Cuts A Deal With His Tormentors:
“He said that when a school counsellor confronted him about Mr. Raza’s misfortunes, he replied, ‘It’s no fun what happened here, but that’s the problem with the Internet. Things travel fast.'”
So there’s the rub. It connects us faster, but when it hurts someone, the damage is not relegated to a bunch of kids, giggling phone conversations and the occasional pointing-of-the-finger in a lunchroom. We all see it, breathe it and become a part of it. We all get dirty and, in some way, it takes each and every one of us back to a time when we felt insecure. The only difference is that now, because of how word of mouth travels online, the world is watching our every move.
Final note: imagine how this will speed up and happen more frequently as mobile video picks up?