There was an interesting article in the NYT the other day on why communication on social media is so frequently fraught with hatred, venom, insult, and insanely negative energy.
Trying to discuss an even remotely contentious topic with someone on social media is a fool’s errand.
Yet still we do it. My Twitter and Facebook feeds over the last month have been filled with vulgar discourse about Israel and Gaza. For example, someone posts a link saying Hamas hailed rockets upon Israel, someone else responds by accusing Israel of killing hundreds of civilians, and next thing you know it’s chaos on social media. A link quickly devolves into vicious and personal attacks.
If you haven’t experienced this wrath (I’d be shocked if most people have not), try this simple experiment: Go to a social website and offer even the slightest morsel of opinion on something. You can pick from Gaza, Israel, Justin Bieber, Orlando Bloom, Jay Z and Beyoncé, the N.S.A., President Obama or any other esoteric topic. Then watch what happens. One person says one thing and then the digital mob is upon you.
So what’s a social media user to do?The author suggests the instant nature of the medium contributes to the "respond-first, think-later" approach:
“One of the many problems when you respond to something digitally is that it is so instant,” said Bernie Mayer, the author of several books on conflict resolution and a professor at the Creighton University School of Law in Omaha. “One of the things we know that helps people in conflict is to slow things down a little.”We can toss that solution right out the window. If there’s one thing that all these social media sites are great at, it’s the opposite of slowing down. Most sites are designed to let you know, in real time, when someone wants to engage with you.Dr. Mayer noted that beyond speed, another problem with digital arguments is that people can’t detect tone, facial expression and, most of all, sarcasm. Numerous research studies have found that people try to detect these things, often looking for social cues in grammar and use of emoticons. But in a 140-character fight, that’s almost impossible.
This is surely true, as we've seen in our profession with the type of lawyer I call the "immediate emailer."
This is a person who immediately weighs in, often by smart phone while driving or on the can, within seconds of your thoughtful, carefully constructed and nuanced communication with something stupid, clearly wrong, or which demonstrates a complete lack of even basic reading comprehension.
Did you even read it or think for a second before you responded?
This type of idiotic "fly-by" lawyer also make sure to respond to all, so the whole world can benefit from their wisdom.
In depositions, though, you are actually with each other.
Behavior like this -- especially at a big firm -- is learned. Who are the mentors to these lawyers?A federal judge in Iowa meted out an unusual punishment to a lawyer for repeatedly raising objections and interrupting depositions: She must produce a training video showing why such tactics are inappropriate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, her law firm objected to the ruling.
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett issued the "outside-the-box sanction" last week to Chicago-based attorney June Ghezzi, a partner at the international law firm Jones Day.
Bennett wrote that during pretrial depositions in a lawsuit in which Ghezzi was defending Abbott Laboratories, she "proliferated hundreds of unnecessary objections and interruptions" that appeared to coach witnesses on how to answer questions and delayed the proceedings.
Bennett said that rather than issuing a monetary fine against Ghezzi, he wanted to take a stand against "obstructive deposition practices" that are common and that some litigators are even taught to use.
But if the firm steadfastly defends this conduct -- as it apparently does here -- we already have our answer.