By Judy Berman
Sometimes, the solution is worse than the problem.
Politics aside, there are just too many examples to point to where someone should just have left well enough alone.
Where to begin?
* The desire to hide or keep something out of the public eye is so common that there’s even a name for it: The Streisand Effect.
In 2003, Barbra Streisand sought to have photos of her Malibu, California, home removed from the Internet.
An environmental activist, Kenneth Adelman, posted aerial photos of her home “on his website as part of an environmental survey.” Steisand sued him.
Her actions had the exact opposite effect of what she was aiming for. The lawsuit “brought more than a million visitors” to his website.
The case was dismissed and Adelman’s photo was widely distributed in the press, according to a May 2007 article by Andy Greenberg in Forbes.com.
* Who hasn’t had a headache when moving?
Broken furniture, missing items or belongings delivered weeks after promised.
The latter happened when our eldest daughter moved to Florida to attend college. The van arrived weeks after she did. Until it did, all she had in her apartment were the few meager belongings she packed in her car.
It’s probably a good thing for the company that the website Yelp did not exist then. Yelp, a multinational company, publishes customer reviews about businesses.
One customer, upset with the terrible service provided to her parents, gave the moving company a low rating on Yelp. The moving company was not pleased and threatened to sue the woman if she did not take the review down.
What they got instead was a deluge of negative publicity and tons of unwanted attention from the media. The moving company withdrew its threat.
* What kids don’t complain about their school lunch? I recall a lunch revolt at my high school many years ago, when kids refused to buy their lunches until the school offered better selections.
This story does involve political intervention and fallout.
In Scotland, in 2012, a 9-year-old girl took her disgruntlement with her school lunches one step further. Martha Payne, from Argyll, posted photos of the lunch and rated them on her blog “NeverSeconds.”
“She gave each meal a ‘food-o-meter’ and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it. She had been using the blog to raise money for the Mary’s Meals charity,” according to a June 15, 2012, article in BBC News
Argyll and Bute Council decided to impose a ban on photos at the school’s canteen because the school catering staff feared for their jobs. The council cited a Daily Record newspaper that “published a photograph of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies.”
After public furor over the ban, Martha Payne was again allowed to take photos of her school lunches. Hopefully, the menu choices improved as well.
* The last entry in the what were they thinking file is the “noble” experiment – the 18th Amendment which took effect in 1920 – that made it illegal to make, sell or consume alcohol.
It was deemed a failure – Richter-scale huge – and repealed in 1933. In Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” – a three-part series on PBS – he showed that, much like drugs, alcohol was brought in by planes, boats and over the border by cars. It also was illegally made and sold in the United States. You can read my story on this here.
Prohibition was intended to reduce crime, but it actually did the opposite. The “unintended consequences” of Prohibition was demand for the product increased, and crime – which became more organized – filled the void.
Sometimes, it’s better to shrug it off and let it go. Just ask Barbra.
Have you a story about unintended consequences that you’d like to share? Please share.
Music Video: The Pet Shop Boys – Twentieth Century – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exPQAXE8KTE
Photo: Unintended Consequences – illustration on blog. Curtis Ogden’s blog is a great read. http://interactioninstitute.org/unintended-consequences/
Photo: Moving company. If only every mover was as careful as these guys are. Source: Rharel1. Taken May 29, 2010. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/46/Movingguardian.org.JPG/640px-Movingguardian.org.JPG
Photo: School lunch – “NeverSeconds Blogger Martha Payne School Ban Photo Lifted” BBC.com, June 15, 2012 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-18454800
Link: “The Streisand Effect” by Andy Greenberg http://www.forbes.com/2007/05/10/streisand-digg-web-tech-cx_ag_0511streisand.html
Link: “The Perils of the Streisand Effect” by Justin Parkinson, BBC News Magazine, July 30, 2014 http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28562156
Link: “Moving Company Picks the Wrong Person to Threaten to Sue Over a Bad Yelp Review: http://consumerist.com/2012/11/14/moving-company-picks-the-wrong-person-to-threaten-to-sue-over-bad-yelp-review/
Link: “NeverSeconds Blogger Martha Payne School Ban Photo Lifted” BBC.com, June 15, 2012 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-18454800
Link to my story: “Scamming the Mob” which ran Oct. 7, 2011 – http://earth-rider.com/2011/10/07/scamming-the-mob/