Nothing like a pervasive, invasive internet bug to make you want to take a complete tech sabbatical and spend some time enjoying this beautiful spring weather.
And this week, we got one! Complete with its own vampiric graphic and a name just right for sanguinely alarmist Tweeting: The Heartbleed Bug. The headlines alone send shivers down my spine.
What terrifies me less, however, are the actual consequences of the bug. I know I should be worried. I completely believed all the experts when they told me that this could be one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen.
I changed my passwords when they told me to change my passwords, and I made plans to change them again when they told me to sit tight a few days before changing.
I held off making any online purchases (until the next day when there was something I really needed to download off iTunes).
I skimmed every article about it in my Facebook newsfeed.
But I still haven’t the foggiest whether this terrifying, catastrophic global computer snafu will really impact my life beyond this week. At least in any measurable way.
It reminds me of a few weeks ago when the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 360 was much more in question than it is now. First there were news reports of ticket holders who were not on the manifest having their passports mysteriously stolen in Thailand.
Then, speculation about the passengers being alive and hostage in some Central Asian terrorist training camp.
Do you remember there was a day or two there when everyone was suspicious about the pilot?
Sadly, we now know the plane probably crashed and there were no survivors. Which was the most likely case scenario from the start, but it hardly makes for the kind of reporting that will keep people tuning in.
Because of our constant desire and need for news and our round-the-clock access to media, journalists and bloggers often feel compelled to post or break a story the moment they hear about it, sometimes without doing due diligence with the facts. Most would probably prefer to take a more cautious approach (particularly in retrospect once a story proves to hold no water) but the pressure to be the first is such that they don’t feel they have that luxury.
I decided less than 12 hours into Heartbleed that I wasn’t going to bother reading another word about it until everyone got their facts straight. I’m glad I managed to refrain from posting my first initial thoughts about the virus, because they would have been wrong.
Until social media channels come with some sort of five-second (or five-hour) delay, it never hurts to apply those age old THINK principles to your posts: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? If you, and anyone posting on behalf of your company, can truthfully answer yes to these questions with every post, it will go a long way toward building an engaging online relationship, based on trust, between you and your customer.