Social Media Cyberbullies Unfairly Attack Reputation of Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas in Rio de Janeiro by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brazil is licensed under CC 3.0 Brazil.

As an American, I am very proud of how our Olympians are doing in Rio. Many of our athletes have had to overcome tremendous personal obstacles just to have an opportunity to compete at the Olympics.  One such athlete is Gabby Douglas who has been a star performer for years.

Gabby Douglas has won 3 Olympic gold medals while representing the United States (two at the 2012 London games and one at the 2016 Rio games) and multiple gold medals in the world championships.  She is not just an all around Olympic champion but also a class act who conducts herself professionally in public. Always smiling and being classy, despite public set backs and dumb questions from the media is extremely difficult for anyone, especially someone who is just 20 years of age.

After Gabby Douglas’ team won the all around gold medal in gymnastics, a handful of Internet cyberbullies criticized her for not putting her hand over heart during the playing of our national anthem during the medal ceremony. In years past, these online critics would be ignored. Unfortunately, some members of the international media gave these cyber-bullies an out sized platform to unfairly criticize the way Gabby Douglas conducted herself.

If these ignorant cyber-bullies knew their Olympic history they would realize they had no basis for their criticism. For example, some members of the original Dream Team in 1992 that featured some of the best basketball players to ever suit up didn’t put their hands over their hearts during the playing of our national anthem at their medal ceremony.

Even though Ms. Douglas was perfectly respectful during the competition and afterward and owed nobody an apology, she still gave one to get this ridiculous story out of the media cycle. Sometimes the best course of action to put a matter to bed is to apologize and move on, other times it may be best to ignore unfounded criticism, and sometimes it is best to challenge the critics.

When a potential social media crisis is about to strike it is imperative to understand how to properly respond.  Your professional reputation or the reputation of your business may hang in the balance of your actions.

Copyright 2016 by Bradley S. Shear, Esq. All rights reserved.    

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