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Got several emails about Kate McMahon's column this week about a social media brouhaha in which Cracker Barrel found itself after it fired a woman, apparently without cause, and never defended itself after social media blew up.

MNB reader Joel Scott wrote:

Nice article this morning regarding Cracker Barrel. Ironic that their company logo is meant to convey an old timey chat around a barrel, and the old fella leaning on it is unaware of that dang ol intraweb causing such a fuss.

Every company should take note and handle every employee and customer with

MNB reader Jackie Lembke wrote:

When I saw this I looked to see if I could find any information that would explain the firestorm. Nothing, not a statement one. I feel for Cracker Barrel, with personnel issues there is little that can be shared. It almost feels like an Amy and Sheldon experiment. How quickly will a # on twitter ignite a firestorm? How prepared is any company to master the storm? I still have no idea why Brad’s wife was fired, I really shouldn’t have any idea. If Brad’s wife has no idea than somewhere within the Cracker Barrel organization things need to be changed. Even if you disagree with the firing, you should always know why.

From another reader:

Ok, funniest story I have read in a long time.  But you have to also put it next to the United Airlines story this week and ask, who is in the room when these decisions are  made?  Bad leadership... not so funny....

MNB reader Jeff Reinartz chimed in:

Pitchfork Nation is out of control. Wouldn't it be judicious of us to wait and find out for what cause a person was fired before we all go nuts and attack the employer until an answer is produced, assuming along the way that the employer is by its very nature inherently evil and must be stopped? Nah, it's easier if we just all lose our minds since we can type and post whatever we want without repercussion. Makes us feel we're somehow involved.

Cracker Barrel may very well have had good cause for terminating this person, maybe not. I don't know. Do you know? Do any of the social justice warriors know? long as we can make this terrible empire pay for its indiscretions until it gives the answer we want, who cares?

Depending on how far this goes, there could potentially be people's livelihoods at stake as a result of this, but we'll just have to take the good with the bad, because - GASP - this doesn't agree with my world view!

Sad state of affairs that this is our new normal....all of us victims who KNOW we're right, shout first and ask questions later.

I would agree that this illustrates how quickly social media can blow up on a company ... but the point is that the company didn't offer answers, and didn't even say it couldn't address personnel issues in public.

You're right that sometimes social justice warriors can get out of control and can make mistakes. But I, for one, think we probably are better off in the long run if social justice warriors have the tools to do battle with what you call "terrible empires," whether they be political, governmental, commercial, cultural or religious.

We continue to get email about the New York Times piece by 17-year-old Jonah Stillman, who recently joined the advisory board of Blackboard, an educational software company. Invited to attend his first meeting, Stillman was enthralled and engaged ... until he got an unexpected criticism from a vice president named Craig Chanoff during a break in the session. Chanoff told him that if he wanted to be successful, Stillman had to stop texting friends and checking his Twitter feed during the meeting. Stillman, however, wasn't doing any such thing. He was taking copious notes on his smart phone, and Stillman acknowledged that this reflected a generational chasm that needs to be addressed.

One MNB reader wrote:

Like you, I too teach a class as an adjunct professor. And the challenge I set myself is ensuring my students don’t pick up their phones. It is incumbent on me to maintain attention. And when still in corporate life I trained colleagues on “story-telling” in presentations of research data. My advice would be get to the essential point very quickly. It is my belief that in any corporate presentation, the presenter has 5 to 7 minutes before the most senior person picks up her phone. Use that time to communicate the essence. Everything thereafter is gravy.

From another reader:

I’m a Gen-X  mom of two teenagers (16 & 15) who live on their phones.  While I understand where Stillman was coming from, most of the time when people (of ALL generations) have their faces in the phones, they are not taking notes.  Just this weekend my daughter and I were at a dance competition.  During the awards portion of the day, all the dancers sit up on stage to find out their scores and how they placed.  I would say at least 90% of the kids onstage had their phones with them.  I can also tell you about 80% of them were not paying any attention to the announcer – they had their faces in their phones, showing things to their friends or taking selfies onstage.  They were so busy, some winners had to be called twice.  What really disappointed me was the lack of sportsmanship conduct on that stage.  There was barely any clapping not only for other studios, but for their fellow studio mates.  Interestingly, our dance studio had just recently incorporated phone etiquette into their ‘Code of Conduct’ for all dancers.   I understand how integrated phones have become to our daily lives – but there needs to be some semblance of balance between the digital and real worlds.  As adults who remember how it is to live without phones constantly in our hands, it’s important for us to teach this to the next generation(s).

You can blame the kids, and they certainly deserve a percentage of the blame. But it sounds to me like the dance instructors didn't earn any medals for teaching the kids about sportsmanship. And if I were a parent to one of those kids, I'd be questioning whether I'd instilled the right values in those kids.

The phones aren't the problem.
KC's View: