Take notes, Louise Linton
Don’t call it a comeback — unless you’ve got a really good one.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, drew ire Monday night with her lengthy retort to an Instagram critic’s gripe over taxpayer money.
“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #usa,” Linton had captioned a photo of herself and Mnuchin disembarking a government plane on a trip to Kentucky with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tagging her ensemble’s designer brands #tomford, #hermesscarf, #valentino and #rolandmouret. Jenni Miller, an Oregon mom of three, fired back in a comment: “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”
The Scottish actress opted to respond — and mock Miller for making less money than her and her multimillionaire, Goldman Sachs alum husband.
“@jennimiller29 cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours,” she wrote. “You’re adorably out of touch … Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute.”
— Margarita Noriega (@margarita) August 22, 2017
Needless to say, Linton set her Instagram account to private shortly afterward.
“She took off her mask and she clearly stated what she thinks of people who don’t share the same type of lifestyle as her,” etiquette and lifestyle expert Elaine Swann told Moneyish.
“Her follow-up was inappropriate and nearly offensive,” added pop culture expert and TV host Jawn Murray. “She flaunted her wealth in the face of someone concerned about their government dollars and how they were being spent.” (The couple is reimbursing the government for Linton’s travel, and she didn’t receive compensation for the products she plugged, a Treasury Department spokesperson told Moneyish.)
Both experts agreed Linton shouldn’t have replied. Murray, pointing to backlash last summer over Linton’s self-published memoir of her gap year in Zambia (critics decried a “white savior” complex) even suggested she hire a social media manager “so that she doesn’t constantly end up in this predicament.”
So when do you respond and when do you turn the other cheek? And if you decide to clap back, how do you do it without coming off like an entitled jerk? Swann and Murray had some tips:
Engage only if you have the energy to deal with what comes next. “Your response doesn’t shut it down — just keep that in mind. Your response is going to either keep that person going, or other people will jump on the bandwagon and get involved and comment on whatever it is you say,” Swann said. “It just depends on whether you want this thing to live or die immediately.” If you’re game to “feed the monster,” she added, then by all means respond.
Remember the block button is there for a reason. “I’ve found that there’s a blessing in the block button,” Murray said. “You can remove those people from your space, from your page, and you never need to worry about them commenting again.” If you feel sunlight is the best disinfectant for online harassment, you could “put them on blast without having to actually respond to them,” added Swann. “Just repost what they said and let the public scrutiny begin.”
Keep it 100. “Lying is never good. Never, ever, ever lie,” Swann said. “Because people will always break out receipts.”
Own your embarrassment. “In instances where there’s a blooper or a bad scenario,” Murray said, “taking ownership of it always works.” He cites Kierra Sheard, a gospel singer who reposted a video of her wig popping off during a 2015 performance, by way of example. “It’s the best thing that she could’ve done — it was a huge viral craze, it gave her more recognition. What was an embarrassment for her was used for her good because she owned it.” You might also learn from Mariah Carey, who posted a GIF of herself shrugging and conceded “S— happens” after her disastrous, much-mocked New Year’s Eve show. “Have a happy and healthy new year everybody!” she added. “Here’s to making more headlines in 2017.”
Reclaim the insult. Take an example from Paris Jackson, whose response in April to a body-shamer pointing out she’d gained some weight was “f— yeah I have.” “You basically are taking the sting out of the insult,” Swann said. “It’s almost as if saying, ‘Yeah, OK, so now what?’”
Ok. Not sure why you're miffed but have a nice weekend https://t.co/QAL1NaezRR
— Al Roker (@alroker) July 21, 2017
Kill ’em with kindness. You could “do the hand-wave to the finger” the way “Today” weather anchor Al Roker does, Swann said. (He once replied to an insult about his “deformed body” with a “Thanks for watching!” and last month wrote to a critic, “Ok. Not sure why you’re miffed but have a nice weekend,” for example.) “You’re just kind of uprooting the insult and planting a different seed — and that different seed is kindness,” Swann said. “There, again, is no real direction for them to go beyond that. Unless they choose to insult you again.”
Be funny, not mean. “The best clapbacks are ones that are witty. The average person on social media isn’t able to tap into their wit, (so) most people lean towards being mean when they want to respond to someone or clap back at someone,” Murray said. “But the person who is naturally or instinctively witty, they always win. Because humor will trump meanness any day of the week.” (Chrissy Teigen is a hybrid: sometimes funny, sometimes mean, sometimes both.)
Choose the approach that fits your personality. “It’s too easy to fail when you’re trying to be someone else. Be yourself, do what you would normally do, and you’ll find strength in that,” Swann said.
“If your inclination is to be horrible like we see in this particular example … don’t say anything at all, because then you end up being the person who’s judged,” she added. “Louise should’ve said nothing.”
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