To bring you up to speed on what happened:
Before his death, Mr. Tilley had come under particularly harsh criticism on the advertising blogs. AgencySpy, which is written by an anonymous advertising industry employee, was perhaps the most biting.
In a Feb. 19 posting, the site quoted excerpts from an internal e-mail message Mr. Tilley had sent to subordinates, in which he wrote: “Too many of you are only doing good work. And some of you are doing work that simply isn’t good enough.”
AgencySpy wrote that Mr. Tilley “needs to go back to management 101,” adding: “At one point, Paul thought he could make it as a game show host. Doesn’t one need to be charming for that?”
On February 22, Mr. Tilley jumped from an upper floor of the Fairmont Chicago hotel.
Did the blog attacks lead to Mr. Tilley committing suicide? Of those close to him; some say "yes", some say "no".
Still, Michael Arrington suggests that some blogs–such as Valleywag–thrive on gossip and rumor. He asks "When will we have our first Valleywag suicide?"
I shudder at the thought.
Perhaps all bloggers–in fact, all journalists– should stop and consider the personal psychological harm our words might have on an individual. While it’s easy for us to post our scathing criticisms. we’re often desensitized to the harm we inflict–simply because we’re miles away, safe behind our web browser.
I don’t think Valleywag should be singled out here either. TechCrunch could just as easily post a bad review of a new start-up–one the founder poured his whole life into–and not realize it’s attacking more than just the company with its words.
I’ve been on the receiving end of an attack, and I’ve probably written a blog post or two that’s messed-up the pysche of one or two people. I’m sorry if that’s you.
Perhaps going forward, we should all adopt a blogger’s Golden Rule: "Blog about others, as you would have them blog about you."