Perusing social media platforms, I constantly find myself battling the dynamic of users entitled to their freedom of speech vs. knowing when to filter inappropriate comments. Over the weekend, in a Mashable article posted by Adario Strange , many were in an uproar over controversial comments made by Italian Fashion Designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana related to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). During an interview with Italian Magazine, Panorama, Domenico Dolce reportedly said:
“I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.” In the same interview, his business partner, Stefano Gabbana, said, “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”
Elton John along with various others such as Ricky Martin, Courtney Love and Al Roker took to social media and called for a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana, resulting in the #BoycottDolceGabbana” hashtag rising to prominence on Saturday, 3/16.
“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as synthetic,” wrote John, on his instagram account. “And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce & Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana”
In addition, a number of other Twitter users have weighed in using the hashtag and even some began posting pictures of their personal Dolce & Gabbana articles being thrown into the trash or burned so no one else could wear them. In response to all of the chaos, Dolce & Gabbance simply stated that they firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression.
In reading this article, I found one thing to be very apparent. I experienced the power of Twitter once again in sending a powerful message a long way in a short period of time and uniting strangers with a common opinion. In addition, I had to question the intelligence and business savvy of Dolce & Gabbana. In this day and age, it almost seems impossible that one would not grasp the power that social media has in spreading a message. Yes, we have the freedom to freely post and say what we want, but from a business perspective, this could be extremely detrimental to one’s company and brand knowing that our opinions could be offensive to many. At what point do you discuss a potentially controversial subject in which you believe at the expense of possibly offending others?
Aside from prominent public figures, I experience this myself on my personal newsfeeds as well. If you choose to post something, you should be prepared to receive feedback that may be contrary to what you believe. At the same time, I think it’s important to always be respectful no matter what the situation may be. For example, when my friends choose to post political debates or sports updates such as Tim Tebow coming to town, this usually receives an uproar of personal opinion swirling around. Much of it I find to be pretty comical as I don’t take social media as seriously as some of my counterparts in regards to what is posted.
Here are the quick “Do’s & Dont’s”
1. Do stay calm
2. Do ask questions
3. Don’t react to deliberately provocative statements
4. Do be polite
5. Do know when to walk away
Did Elton John handle this debate in an appropriate way or could boycotting also be deemed another term for bullying as mentioned by a few? As I was taught as a child which has seemingly remained true over the years, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.