5/16/13

Amy's Baking Company . . .

My Twitter feed ERUPTED Tuesday afternoon with talk of Amy's Baking Company

The business, based in Scottsdale, Arizona appears to be owned/run by a husband and wife that, um, have cut some corners on the way to success. I have not spent as much time and energy on this as many (more on that in a minute) but I have picked up they were stealing tips from their wait staff ,resold baked goods from other bakeries (a fairly standard practice for some restaurants - including several higher end places that don't want to keep a pastry chef on staff but I don't think many places that call themselves a "baking company" do this . . . I could be wrong) and they are apparently people who went on a reality TV show to "save" their failing business and then refused all advice and help from a self-appointed expert who, in his defense, does have some substantial restaurant success despite having a personality that is less than glowing.

It should also be pointed out here that some of what I've read implies that both Amy (of Amy's Baking Company fame) and her husband Samy (of Amy's husband and co-owner of Amy's Baking Company fame) both have some criminal activities in their past and perhaps even some jail time (at least for her, from what I've read).

I give the back story here for a simple reason . . . I don't know Amy or Samy. I clicked on the first Tweet I saw and thought it was an interesting/funny situation and I Tweeted accordingly but then I clicked over to their Facebook page, read a little deeper and promptly deleted my Tweet. Why? I don't care about Amy or Samy all that much but, I gotta' say - I "felt for" them in a weird way.

The PR/marketing guy in me cringes. It should be simple . . . you have had problems with confronting customers and with legal issues and with "trolls" in the past. You (accordingly) are not "people people" so you should probably stay behind the scenes (if you have to be at all involved in) a restaurant and you should certainly not do your own marketing (Facebook, etc.). More over the MINUTE you see your Facebook page is exploding you should just shut it down. It takes a dozen (or so) mouse clicks and you can put a new one up when whatever storm is blowing in gets past you almost as easily/quickly. More over you should NOT go to places like Reddit or Yelp if you are not open to criticism. Yelp EXISTS for criticism (positive and negative) and Reddit is, well, Reddit. It can go up and down rather quickly. 

I'm NOT defending Amy and Samy. If you steal from your employees, you deserve criticism of your ethics and business practices. If you are a bakery and you sell other people's things at a mark up without disclosing that, you deserve a finger wagging from the folks that have bought "your" cupcakes. If you post photos of other people's food as your own, you should take the criticism for lying and stealing. Fine. Those you've wronged can be upset and hold you responsible for THOSE errors but the personal attacks and the antagonizing seemed undue. 

I have to ask WORLD . . . do we NOT have more important things to do? Can we NOT come up with a better use of our time than mocking and chiding two strangers in the heat of Arizona? And I'm not talking about the people that have worked or eaten there (the few hundreds . . . maybe a thousand or so) in the real world and had an actual bad experience. You people do your thing. Unabashedly.

But the rest of you - the minute you REALIZE a person (people) is (are) emotionally unstable and are otherwise in full blown crisis . . . do you NEED to mock them? Do you HAVE to "like" when they are mocked? And I'm talking about people calling them ugly, telling them God doesn't love them, people begging that they not reproduce, people posting things about their past that have nothing to do with their bakery or business practices. 

Imagine - if you would deign - if you were friends with Amy or Samy. If you loved Amy or Samy. If you were family with Amy or Samy. OR if someone you were friends or family with or loved WAS (analogously) Amy or Samy. Would it still be funny? Would you still mock so freely? Would you spread the word as far and wide as you could for others to delight in thousands and thousands of strangers dumping on people you cared about digitally? 

About a month ago two bombs went off in Boston. The world rushed to empathy (and some of you to making it your own, personal crisis). I got myself in trouble for sharing a re-Tweet of the latter where I blocked the identities of the person that sent and re-sent it. The person that sent the Tweet saw my annoyance at the general behavior (either my Tweets or my blog post) and took umbrage/felt singled out. They felt they had the right to defend themselves and that they had been attacked (they had not been attacked and I support their right to defend themselves if they didn't like anonymity). More importantly (in this context) I had a few people chide and or straight up attack me on behalf of their friend. Seemed fair, candidly. Someone they cared about felt attacked. They protected. I'm fine with this (including the criticism and this is not about them being wrong, etc.). BUT - I saw that same person who felt attacked by my Tweet a month ago and some of their defenders relishing (my word, not theirs) in the torment being heaped upon some strangers a thousand miles away.

Why is it we would feel it is unfair when it is US being mocked? Why would we rush to the defense of someone we know? Why would we not even hesitate to be the attacker/cheerer/etc. when it was a stranger? Even if we felt they "deserved" it (again, for things they never did to "us" directly)?

I know people think I'm a "bit too much" and that I need a "filter" but the good/bad news with me is that I won't say anything about you behind your back or through the protection of a keyboard that I would not say to your face. I don't go out of my way to be cruel. I don't think of myself as overly critical, etc. But I truly struggle in this "age" of digital communication. 

These digital tools (social media, websites that allow for commentary, blogs, etc.) allow us to behave/act and speak in ways that we would not do in person. NO ONE is walking in to Amy's Baking Company later today and telling two strangers they should not have children. NO ONE is going to thumbtack old criminal case filings to the front door like so-many Martin Luthers. NO ONE is going to stand up in a small restaurant and give a physical "thumbs up" (like") to someone just straight up trashing a stranger. But there is a specific comment on Amy's Baking Company's Facebook page that is not even all that funny and nearly 5,000 (as I am typing this) people have "liked" it. The bakery has 48,000 (as I am typing this) people "like" it . . . and by "like" I mean they want to keep posted as each train falls off the track and the train wreck grows. 

You're better than that, world. You're smarter, funnier, and more talented than to heap your witty, witty banter on people who are not listening, not open to criticism, and not an actual threat or offense to you (again, if you've been harmed by Amy and Samy - you are exempt from my holier-than-thou crap). I get that we all like to glob on to things (and when it is empathy, compassion, love, and the spirit with which we draw air is the motivation I am allll for it) but . . . please . . . let's just leave Amy and Samy alone. They clearly have enough problems as it is.