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Did You Know that Elephants are More Intelligent than Humans?Elephant

Yup, that is what the scientists tell us.

The elephant brain is denser than the human’s, and the temporal lobes, associated with memory, are more developed than in humans. Elephant’s lobes also have more foldings, so that they can store more information. That’s why elephants have excellent memory.” (source). So here is the question, what has a better memory, the elephant or the Internet?

This post is actually following up on a comment by Rick Lelchuk about personal responsibility and how the onus of this responsibility falls on the individual. He used the memory of the Internet as an example, meaning if someone uses bad judgment once and blurts out something online without thinking of the long and far-reaching consequences of this action, it will haunt them for a very long time – because the Internet remembers.

I have heard of many specific examples where people are suffering from these unwanted consequences of “bad” Internet behavior – some not even by choice. One woman in particular was mentioned in an article about a scandalous case when she actually had nothing to do with the case; she came on the scene after the incident. This is actually not an example of personal responsibility, as she had nothing to do with it, but it is a good example of the very long memory of the Internet. Her name still appears on the first page in Google, and although it doesn’t say anything negative about her, we all know about “guilt by association”. Couple that with the fact that many people don’t read beyond the first paragraph or so and tend to make judgments based on perhaps only half of the facts. How many times have you heard someone say, “I read a review about such-and-such and it proves the product (or service) is crappy’, yet if you check out the same review, you might often find the second, third, fourth, etc. reviews are actually positive?

Take another example of someone losing their cool online and acting unprofessionally – as we have all seen. This person’s comment will be showing up in Google for a lot longer than he or she will appreciate – no doubt. There are reputation management companies out there specifically for the purposes of managing and/or helping re-build business’ reputation. Have you seen examples of people saying something online that has left its mark on their reputation? No names please :)

About the Author

Julie Weishaar Provides Internet and Video Marketing Solutions For Business

23 Responses to “Who Has a Longer Memory – an Elephant or the Internet?”
Read them below or add one

  1. Hi Carolyn, too bad there isn’t an “undo” button on those emails, right? I love that undo button :)

  2. Caroyln Ponciano says:

    Great reminder. I understand that I am already guilty of sending something at my office which i should have seriously considered longer and either should not have sent it or must have rewritten a few of it. Hasty sends can have serious consequences! And then the web, no less! Wow, wouldn’t that be horrible to become at the very top of the various search engines for something you may not wish to be connected with.

    Many thanks!
    Carolyn,

  3. Hey Deb, good point about – “true or false – doesn’t matter” – the Internet sting is the same.

  4. Deb Augur says:

    Hi Julie,

    First, that was really interesting about the elephant! I had heard about their great memories but had no idea why. So that was really cool.

    Second, yes, I have heard of people that have had their reputation damaged, both from their own doing and for no wrong doing. That’s pretty bad when you can’t control rumors and hearsay on the Internet.

    Reputation management should be a booming business with all the stuff going on online! True or false, doesn’t matter. Ouch! That would be awful.

  5. HI Patricia, thanks for stopping by. I agree with your about negative comments and insults being unprofessional. I actually stopped following someone for that exact reason. I actually really liked his stuff and his online “attack” wasn’t even against me, but I chose to not follow him because his actions reflected badly on him, and like you, I choose to not be around those people.

  6. Hi Julie

    I have seen things written online that are not true or honest about people I know. As these people are in the public eye and well known, they just let it go over their heads. I guess they figure it goes with the territory. And while they are having a go at them, they are leaving someone else alone.

    I am very careful what I write or say online. As you say, it is there forever and if something is said in anger, could live to regret it! Sometimes I am surpirised by the personal attacks I read on some blogs. I don’t go back as I don’t want to be around negative, angry people. And if the person is a business owner, to me it is also very unprofessional.

    Patricia Perth Australia

  7. Hey Mandy – you are great – I love that: “Even the elephant is scared of the mouse” – Priceless! As far as answering the question in the title – I think the correct answer is it doesn’t matter because who really cares what the elephant remembers, right? But the Internet – that is a whole different ball of wax. Agreed about “dirty laundry” – what I always say is: “Don’t write/post anything on the web that you don’t want the whole world to read – because they will” :)

  8. Mandy Swift says:

    Hi Julie, so glad your blog is up and running again. I missed your wit and wisdom last week!
    What an intriguing title for a blog post – Just had to read it! You don’t actually answer the question, so thought I’d have a stab at it myself!
    I’m going to hazard that possibly the elephant has the better memory but getting on the wrong side of the internet is definitely the most dangerous. At least you can hide (or emigrate!) to get away from the elephant. But you are never more than 3 seconds away from the ‘mouse’ who can track you down no matter where you are in the world … and even the elephant is scared of the mouse!
    Once said, never forgotten is one thing. But once said, never forgotten AND the whole world knows about it is a more dangerous monster altogether.
    … Comes back to the old sayings, “Do as you would be done by” & “Never do your dirty laundry in public”
    What do you think??

  9. Hi Linda – I like that “haste makes waste” – great analogy. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an “un-send” button on the computer like there is an “undo” button? I couldn’t live without that “undo” button LOL. Good advice before hitting “send” and/or “submit” would be to sit back, take a deep breath, and count to 10 :)

  10. @William: Wow – thanks for the great response and accolades. You are so right that there are going to be some people who might take offense at an article, post, or comment not intended to offend. Just like there are going to be people who don’t like us and people who we don’t like. There is nothing we can do about that except – as you say – remain professional, don’t get into pissing contents, and behave as an adult. I worked for a CEO many years ago and we developed this understanding of how to cut off a conversation when he was through listening to my side and rationale for suggesting whatever. He would simply say “thank you for your opinion” and that was my cue that he was done listening and at those times, wasn’t going to act on my suggestion LOL. It worked well – I would usually laugh and say “Ok gotcha”.

    May I add to your discussion about self-discipline – the difference between reacting and responding? Reactions are emotion-based and oftentimes impulsive. If one uses self-discipline and avoids reacting (respond instead of react) – they will be in a better position to not blurt out in writing or verbally – something that could reflect badly on us.

    Thanks again for stopping by and leaving your valuable footprint. :)

  11. Linda Thomas says:

    Hi Julie,
    Thanks for the great reminder. I know that I have been guilty of sending something at my office that I should have thought about longer and either should not have sent it or should have rewritten some of it. Hasty sends can have serious consequences! And then the internet, no less! Wow, wouldn’t that be horrible to be at the top of the search engines for something you do not want to be associated with. “Haste makes waste” is a great motto when it comes to sharing on the internet!
    All the best, Linda

  12. Julie, well presented information worth reading…

    I agree, that we should be careful in our chosen words, in the material produced for others to view. I would not stop expressing myself based on fear of others. This is a good post and I will refrain from using words that would hurt with intent.

    Know there will be people who read an article and then get offended. That is going to happen and you would deal with it in a professional manner. There are ways to express yourself and get your opinion out there. That is all a comment is and nothing more. We don’t have to make much of it. Yet, look for good in everyone who responds to a subject matter.

    Now, if someone is getting of the subject matter, then do not allow it to post. If you on the other hand, write on a subject based on intent to assassinate another’s character. Then that is unethical, and will damage your brand. We are not being great leaders, mentors, coaches and leaders if we can’t master the first major skill of self-discipline. You lead others will follow. I would not associate with anyone who has no self-discipline. They would not be involved with any of my businesses. I will pray for them, and look for goodness in that person.

    That is the first skill a leader must have. The only way you can master that skill is by not taking any actions as personal. Your not offended easily. It works both ways. The person who lacked self-discipline are indeed wrong. So, they write a retraction and life moves on. It is not the end of the world. Retractions are the way to reverse open attacks on others character. Now, the response time of retracting an article is the key. The longer you show no remorse. The worse your brand will suffer globally.

    Lesson, just apply self-discipline in all situations. Do not react to a mindset of retaliation via posting an article that will be considered unprofessional, and an attack on someone’s character. You must be quick in posting a retraction.

    Julie, this is a fantastic subject matter. You have done your research and presented this with allot of feeling. This is why your a great mentor and visionary in our business. It is a pleasure reading this article. You have made this writer think of reviewing all my material.

    Thank you and please continue to supply us readers, with another exciting subject matter.

  13. Julie, well presented information worth reading…

    I agree, that we should be careful in our chosen words, in the material produced for others to view. I would not stop expressing myself based on fear of others. This is a good post and I will refrain from using words that would hurt with intent.

    Know there will be people who read an article and then get offended. That is going to happen and you would deal with it in a professional manner. There are ways to express yourself and get your opinion out there. That is all a comment is and nothing more. We don’t have to make much of it. Yet, look for good in everyone who responds to a subject matter.

    Now, if someone is getting of the subject matter, then do not allow it to post. If you on the other hand, write on a subject based on intent to assassinate another’s character. Then that is unethical, and will damage your brand. We are not being great leaders, mentors, coaches and leaders if we can’t master the first major skill of self-discipline. You lead others will follow. I would not associate with anyone who has no self-discipline. They would not be involved with any of my businesses. I will pray for them, and look for goodness in that person.

    That is the first skill a leader must have. The only way you can master that skill is by not taking any actions as personal. Your not offended easily. It works both ways. The person who lacked self-discipline are indeed wrong. So, they write a retraction and life moves on. It is not the end of the world. Retractions are the way to reverse open attacks on others character. Now, the response time of retracting an article is the key. The longer you show no remorse. The worse your brand will suffer globally.

    Lesson, just apply self-discipline in all situations. Do not react to a mindset of retaliation via posting an article that will be considered unprofessional, and an attach on someone’s character. You must be quick in posting a retraction.

    Julie, this is a fantastic subject matter. You have done your research and presented this with allot of feeling. This is why your a great mentor and visionary in our business. It is a pleasure reading this article. You have made this writer think of reviewing all my material.

    Thank you and please continue to supply us readers, with another exciting subject matter.

  14. Hi Angie – Your response is so valuable and full of excellent knowledge, I am not going to respond here. I am writing another blog post to share your expertise with others. Thanks SO much!

  15. Angie @AgentKnowHow says:

    Anything you do online, in person or face to face in the heat of the moment is hardly ever a good idea. Ever heard of BigString? They specialize in offering clients the ability to retract emails like shredding an email message to pieces. That’s as close as one can get to having an undo button for email.

    I have seen negative reviews written about a product or service and then the person writing the review recommends another product or service that they are affiliated with. I hate it when that happens. I read through the review only to find out at the end it was fake. I do appreciate large disclaimers at the beginning before I start to read, but that doesn’t always happen.

    Many sites make a living collecting negative feedback about a product, service or brand. Some brands pay these aggregators of bad reviews to remove the negative blemishes about their business. RipOffReport was one of the first aggregators to get significant traction on the web. Unfortunately Rip Off Report tarnished their own image when they were caught getting paid to remove negative reviews of big brands when the purpose of the site was to provide a pedestal for consumers, not for the site itself to side with the brands.

    With regards to your question about an examples of a negative web event leaving a bad mark. . . we just had an example of this in the real estate industry. A not so well known real estate trainer went after a very popular agent for trademark infringement. The RE community rallied around the popular agent and felt like the RE trainer was unnecessarily and some said personally was attacking the popular agent. The community set up a fund for the agent to fight the RE trainer in court. The dispute was eventually settled. The agent made amends with the trainer, but I doubt agents will remember how it ended in so much as how it started. What they will remember is an RE trainer attacking one of their own. Google Keyword: Zebra Lawsuit if you care to read more. It must have been a hard decision for the RE trainer. She did in fact win the case, which never went to court and was settled privately, but she may have lost the battle. Like you said, the internet has an incredible memory. I hope agents can forgive and forget for her business sake.

  16. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for sharing your online experience. Kudos to you for publicly admitting your mistake and making amends. Not many people are quite as humble – way to go :) You know I have a similar story where I met a gal that I am now actually working with on a social networking platform where we were “reprimanded” for continuing our conversation about the topic of the article but going a little beyond. It was actually funny. I apologized on this gentleman’s article comments and contacted this gal OFF his platform saying “I feel like was was just asked to stand in the corner” LOL

  17. Dave Kotecki says:

    Hey Julie,

    I don’t know if elephants are smarter than humans. I’m pretty sure they haven’t been into space. :)

    In any event, I remember well the time I posted before thinking it through. I came across as far too harsh and yes, downright mean in my rant. And this wasn’t just anyone I spouted off on. It was a well known and very successful marketer who is loved by many fans. Oops.

    The next day I was on a plane, and try as I might, I couldn’t delete my post. By the time I could, the damage was done. Some time later, we crossed paths again, and this person told me that I had “attacked” them. I didn’t think it was that bad, and said so. Then I went back and read my post again. Dang. It WAS that bad.

    Well, I went back on the forum and said that since I had attacked this person publicly and I was wrong, I wanted to publicly apologize because I shouldn’t have posted what I did.

    This person acknowledged my apology and we started talking. We are now friends. Luckily, I was publicly forgiven in the same forum by the person who I wrote the bad post about. I came through none the worse for wear. But like I said, I was lucky. I’m sure it would have taken little effort on their part to make sure I didn’t get much love on the internet after my rant.

    So here’s the voice of experience. Practice what Able Lincoln did. He would write a letter and then leave it in his desk for 2 days. If at the end of that time he still felt the same way, he would send it. If not, he’d destroy it. I hear he wrote many more letters than he ever sent. :)

  18. Hi Andy, yes it is amazing and yes sometimes going the legal route is not worth the time and effort and can even make the situation worse. Like the cases where someone REALLY likes your content so much they decide to use it WITHOUT your name. I realize that imitation is the highest form of flattery – but hello – stealing is not, right?

  19. Andy Nathan says:

    Julie,

    It is amazing how much sticks around. I had someone that I used to work for bash me as I was leaving, and every once and a while I still find the Tweets he created. I was this close to using legal measures, but realized that it would only exasperate the matter. Still it is annoying that it is public and untrue.

    Andy

  20. @Nicole: I feel so strongly about not having anything negative associated with your name/brand yet some people either just don’t care or don’t think about the consequences. I think you are right – reputation management companies will continue to thrive as people either use bad judgment or unintentionally show up in the search engines for negative comments.

    @Susan: I remember your mentioning some “debate” (for lack of a better word) that I missed totally. That is really a good idea about a “delay” button – like the “undo” button (which I couldn’t live without). Anything done out of anger or impulsively – online or off – is often regretted.

    @Donna: My daughter loves elephants – has been collecting them since she was a little girl – hence my idea to compare the elephant’s memory to that of the Internet – glad it worked. Yes, you are right – negativity breeds negativity and on the Internet – it breeds ‘bad business”.

  21. One does have to be careful of EVERYTHING we say on the internet. It never goes away. Avoid negativity at all costs because it will come back to haunt you. I love this post because you related the Elephant’s memory to the internet’s. That is an analogy that really will stick in people’s minds. Very creative and well done. I just hope that more people will read this before they fly off the handle.
    If you disagree with something, the less said the better is my motto! We are all here to create a positive attraction to one another, to share ideas, to learn, to grow. That’s the name of the game. There is no reason to ever make a negative comment to anything.
    Thanks for posting this.
    Donna Merrill

  22. Susan Oakes says:

    Unfortunately I have seen so many examples and even though there are posts etc that warn against it, the same thing happens. I like the idea if a 2 second delay button so people can just have time to take a step back, especially if they are angry before they hit send. I also think people and companies need to take responsibility and not leave it other companies as it does come back to using your common sense.

  23. In Tampa we recently had an event where one of those Online Reputation companies spoke and I really wanted to go hear the person speak to learn more about how they help rebuild a reputation that has been tarnished online. Unfortunately I missed the event, but these companies will most likely grow and grow and grow as the years go on, especially in the medical and legal fields. Its interesting that you pointed out that it is not only the person receiving the bad feedback that has an issue, but the person leaving the negative comment should think twice before wanting to be known for the comment they left in the heat of the moment too. Good point! We should all take time to think before we hit “submit!”

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