Most of you have already heard about this so-called “Craigslist Killer.” This labeling is the worst type of media laziness and it perpetuates the fear of information technology that our society still can’t seem to shake. Fear of new things is, itself, nothing new. But our ability to rapidly disseminate and amplify that fear certainly is. A couple of years ago – when this same kind of panic had reached new heights with Chris Hansen’s MySpace hysteria – I told Tom Zeller at the New York Times basically the same thing I’m going to say now. At around the same time, Andrew Kantor at USA Today smartly called out our fear of everything tech – cameras, Lite-Brites, and things with “batteries and wires.”
So, I find myself (not) wondering:
If he drove a Toyota, would we be calling him “The Toyota Killer”?
If he wore Nike sneakers, would we be calling him “The Nike Killer?”
The shooting incident happened at the Marriott – why isn’t he “The Marriott Killer?”
And I’m sorry to belabor this, but I noticed the suspect appears to use a Blackberry cell phone – so why aren’t we calling him “The Blackberry Killer?”
Because we’re much more comfortable with cars, sneakers, hotels, and even cell phones (however fancy they may be.)
But online communities still scare us; we don’t get them. They’re still weird, new, foreign, or somehow sinister to most people. So we draw an association that does not exist. And in doing so, we irresponsibly do damage to a brand.