The Mistake of Mistake Intolerance

Trained in Graphic Design and a Copywriter by trade, Larner has worked for some of the world’s biggest agencies, including WWAV Rapp Collins and TMP Worldwide. He’s enjoyed spells as Creative Director at The Black Hole and ripe design(UK), leaving one agency after its best financial returns in its 16 year history and the other having won the UK’s best independent agency in its sector. Larner now freelances, offering copywriting, conceptualising and branding services to a wide variety of agencies and direct clients throughout the UK and internationally. His personal blog is at

This island used to be one of liberality; one of sensitivity. An island with an olive branch for those who once wronged us, and a listening ear for those wanting to have their say.

I’m talking about a point in time slightly after we spent a couple of hundred years obsessed with trampling over others’ cultures, forcing new leaders upon them and generally running the world.

But, as the generations have passed, we can be forgiven for that. Can’t we?

Making mistakes is a very human trait. But I do worry that with the unstoppable speed of technological convergence, New Media is becoming Mob Media.

As the news channels talk to us via television, radio and the Internet, we talk back (and to each other) via text messaging, Twitter and blog comments and posts.

All well and good and very exciting, but I’ve sensed another human trait pervading the pixels, the airwaves and the signals; intolerance.

It seems that a compensation culture is turning into a condemnation culture.

And it seems almost daily that someone is harried to resign because of something they said.

That’s right, something they said. What happened to having two, maybe even three sides of an argument?

The words, ‘CALLED TO BE SACKED’ must have their own shortcut key in press rooms up and down the nation.

Even a celebrity judge on a fairly inconsequential entertainment show is called to be sacked for not doing her job properly.

The news hounds put out the headlines, then the social network hounds bay for blood. Often these days it is not even in that order, such is the hair-trigger sensitivity of our ability to take unbridled offence.

Just recently, Alex Epstein, one of the Apprentice candidates had his near 15 minutes of fame transformed into infamy when he made the mistake of not BCC-ing a mass job-touting email.

Okay there are a few data confidentiality issues and there is the irony that Alex did mention he was a communications expert. But that certainly didn’t warrant the bile, snide comments and hateful barbs in my Twitter stream.

The poor guy made a mistake. Haven’t we all?

This culture is not healthy.

It will evolve into a fear of making mistakes. A fear of failure.

Dreamers will shy away from setting up that business. Young athletes will think three times, not twice about how much time they devote to training. Architects will err on the side of examples gone by rather than what’s bold or even right for a place. Children will use books and God forbid, the Internet in its current state, as a prop rather than a springboard to bigger and better things.

People will stop speaking their minds.

And what about our industry?

Creatives will follow a tried and tested route. Account managers will veer towards what the client liked before. Marketing Directors will satisfy their consciences that, well… it did work before.

All at the expense of doing great things. Doing even better things.

And what that expense means for the economy is unmistakably unthinkable.

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