I’m a big fan of the power of disruptive technologies like Uber and AirBnB. I marvel daily at how the tech generation is identifying market voids, conceiving ideas, creating apps and starting businesses. Their creativity is bringing welcome change to entrenched businesses that long ago forgot about customer service and the quality of user experience (do I really have to get in THAT cab??).

I also recently went to see ‘Chef’ with my daughter and could ‘totally’ relate Jon Favrau’s inability to grasp social media to drive his business, at the same time his tweener son was adding new customers through a complete mastery of twitter and other social media techniques.

But the uglier side of the web – and social media –  raised its head in very personal and frustrating way this past week for me and my business.  While the name UrbanGreen was trademarked over four years ago, people continue to use the name for new businesses, even in San Francisco.  Recently Urban Green Investments made national news after they purchased an urban property and undertook a redevelopment process that required them to evict all the tenants – including a 98 year old, frail woman who had lived in the building for 50 years.  See story

Once the story ran, and media outlets picked it and subsequent protests up, the trouble began for me.  An irate public and concerned group of residents did a quick google search for UrbanGreen.   Given a good brand and high SEO, my company rose to the top of most searches immediately – and with ready access to phone number, email address, twitter account and blog – I began to receive plethora of tirades – literally from all over north America-  against ‘my actions’.

  • ‘you should change your name to Urban Greed! ‘
  • ‘You X$#S  Developer! ‘
  • ‘It’s a shame that being a Hipster means being a heartless b@stard’
  • ‘A pox on you and your creepy partners.’

Each time I responded  to the individuals alerting them to the fact that they had the wrong company and should redirect their anger and their colleagues to David McCloskey at UrbanGreen Investments.

Most people were quickly apologetic.   Some even offered advice and assistance in pursuing a complaint against McCloskey and his use of my trade name and confusion it has caused.  And while I appreciated that most people retracted their comments, I wondered how we have become so quick to google and so slow to confirm.  Would you really say these things to someone’s face? Or has the anonymity of the web and ease with which people access social media allowed us to ignore common decency and social more’s of civilized discourse?   Has social media simply created an ADHD induced communication method of simply reacting to the top Google search return without further confirming facts?

For all the good social media and the web brought us, I hope it doesn’t provide a mask of anonymity allowing us to forget common courtesy and civilized ways of communicating.  Immediate and succinct is good, but rude and uninformed is not.