Mike O'Donnell: Sky TV, rugby, beer and Martin van Beynen
OPINION: As a pretend journalist I have serious respect for the proper ones, endangered breed though they are.
Equally I enjoy the columnists who are professional writers and delivering an arresting column, something I still have trouble with.
The south punches above its weight here with Cantabs Joe Bennet and Martin van Beynen being two of the best. Their writing appears effortless, and the stories they tell are insightful of the human condition.
Last week parts of van Beynen's column resonated with me as he described the last couple of decades as the age of umbrage.
His point was not that people are taking any more umbrage, or that there is a lot more to be outraged about.
Rather he feels that personal umbrage has a broadcast voice that is more potent than it deserves thanks to social media. Social media and a bottom-feeding news media that feed off it.
A little like 1960s social theorist Herbert Marcuse in his classic work Repressive Tolerance, van Beynen reckons tiny segments of society have obtained a voice far exceeding their worth or value to that society. This includes "snotnoses" that should be ignored.
Despite being a bit of a digital libertarian, I often feel the same way, particularly after a few drinks.
However sometimes the open mic that the web gives every Tom, Dale and Harriet is used to good effect.
Likewise, its ability to deliver frictionless distribution across social and economic divisions, can bring about informed change and positive outcomes.
The last week has seen two examples of social media powered positive outcomes, covering two important parts of the New Zealand identity – beer and rugby.
The first started with a Facebook post by a fan of Waikato craft brewery Good George Brewing.
The craft aficionado was in Auckland and posted on Facebook that the tap setup at one of the DB-supplied bars in the Viaduct appeared a bit similar to the bespoke setup at Good George HQ in Hamilton.
The Viaduct bar owner took umbrage at this and went a bit ballistic on Facebook, calling the poster an "insignificant little minnow", noting they should "get a f...... life" and calling Hamilton "a third rate hole".
He also put the boot into Good George Brewing noting that he spilled more "puss" than they brewed. Then he really said what he thought…
On the one hand it was a toxic over-reaction to an innocuous comment; an over-reaction that could have ramifications under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. On the other, it was just commercially dumb.
Craft beer drinkers are an influential lot, including captains of business and government, technologists and a bunch of opinion formers. It's the wrong crowd to pick a scrap with.
The bar owner's rant spread far and wide, bringing with it many online promises to avoid the establishment at all cost. And I imagine it's only beginning as social media enables a community response.
A bit like Wellington's Ekim Burgers in 2015, its likely to become a textbook case of how not to engage in social media.
It is also likely to result in a long-trousered conversation between DB and the bar owner; DB being the company that's using the acquisition of Tuatara Brewing to help reposition itself as craft-friendly.
A happier tale played out last weekend. The game that everyone had been waiting for – the first test between the All Blacks and the British Lions – played out at Eden Park. And it was a real pearler.
Knowing that exclusive sport is their last real competitive advantage, Sky TV appeared keen to extract every dollar they could out of the game. This included a jarring jump-cut from the just finished All Black haka to a protracted advertisement for Hyundai.
This ill-judged stab of kick-off interruptus jerked around a whole nation of subscribers, making a mockery what used to be promoted as ad-free telly.
Social media gave those subscribers a broadcast mechanism and they were swift to use it, so that "Sky Haka" trended locally and a barrage of vindictive started flying towards the cable TV company.
Almost equal in volume were barbs targeting Hyundai and the likely counter productive effect if would have on sales.
I'm guessing the Sky crew had a late night trying to neutralise the harm but realised they had committed a huge own goal.
So just 15 hours later Sky posted on Facebook "... you've told us you didn't like seeing an ad break after the haka and before the match started. We hear you, and for the remaining matches of the Lions tour you won't see it again."
Thank the lord for that. But perhaps also spare a moment to thank social media.
It provided an instant and pointed way for an alienated community to send Sky a clear message. Likewise it provided a transparent way for the Viaduct bar owner to queer his own pitch.
So perhaps its not all bad.
Mike "MOD" O'Donnell is an e-commerce manager and professional director. His Twitter handle is @modsta and he's had a few people take umbrage at him.