Yesterday I saw the true power of social media at work right on my very own internets, and it was FANTASTIC. If you're a runner, perhaps you came across the drama that escalated around Jon Gugala, an apparent freelancer for Running Times, Runner's World and Competitor magazines, or so said his Twitter bio, which since has been revised to include no such info. But a quick Google search yesterday showed that, in fact, this guy is pretty prominent in the literary world of running. Probably good, even.
He is also, as you'll see, a complete asshole.
Go ahead, take the time to read through his Twitter feed from the last two days. Also read this post about how the offensive, obnoxious and belittling commentary began after he made sexist remarks about the elite female runners while live-tweeting Monday's Boston Marathon. After he was called out on his actions by a few Twitter followers, things escalated quickly.
And it continues:
Had enough? Oh, OK, keep reading:
Name-calling, belittling. He, who only had just over 200 followers at the beginning of yesterday, called the rest of us amateurs. Amateur writers, amateur bloggers, amateur runners. We clearly don't understand how "this works," he said, when advised that he might want to be careful how he behaves as a representative of largely popular running magazines.
I have 2,091 Twitter followers. I'm a writer. I run, it turns out. Social media is my game. Let's talk about how this works, dude.
This is how social media works, hotshot: You rile up a whole bunch of active and influential people with your childish, mouthy remarks while representing publications we all support, those people create calls to action to have your commentary and work shunned, and then you're publicly shamed, forced to "apologize" and, word has it, removed as a writer for Runner's World moving forward.
All he had to do was apologize for his initial, offensive remarks, which, honestly, were the least of most peoples' concerns once all was said and done. But what bit him in the ass was the continued commentary that portrayed him as a pompous, awful person. Hell, he could be a great guy (I'm doubtful), but he dug himself into a hole.
I sent an email to the editors of Runner's World and Running Times yesterday, receiving this response last night:
Something like this never would have happened ten years ago. It likely wouldn't have happened five years ago. This simply goes to show the absolute power of social media.
When the flame burns out on this, will Jon Gugala's career be ruined? Probably not. Will he feel the negative repercussions of this for a while? Probably. Will the publications actually discontinue work with him? That remains to be seen. But I'm damn impressed with what the running and social media communities were able to accomplish in a day. Word spread, calls-to-action were made, people were influenced. We were heard.
And for that, we all get a high five.