Running a business is always a tough task.
The new world of instant communication and social media has made it a little tougher.
Other than the court system, most businesses here in our downtown are hospitality related. Among these businesses are those that specialize in all things Wiccan.
Over the years, the Wiccan businesses have become a common and respected part of our business community. As tourism has grown, so too has the the amount of witch and witchcraft related businesses and those employed by them.
This is not a terrible thing. Salem is a tourist destination, and many visitors come looking for shops and services related to Wicca. Our downtown is an example of the "build it and they will come" philosophy. Not only are visitors drawn to town, but every year so are new residents.
Like all other professional endeavors these days, an online presence is a must. It increases your visibility and allows you to market your goods and services to a wider audience. Few businesses these days operate without an internet presence.
With every advantage in this life comes a disadvantage. A large part of the internet now includes forums where businessowners or employees can communicate online with customers, fans, and even competitors.
Human nature being what it is, this has, on occasion, led to ugliness. It is easy to speak strongly and attempt to intimidate when you are sure you will not be held accountable.
We see it every day on the streets. Small people in large cars, secure behind steel and glass, act like bullies to other drivers and to pedestrians. Yelling on telephones and using all capital letters in emails have become standard practice for many. Why not? Odds are, the person yelling or banging at the keyboard will never actually meet the person on the receiving end.
Online arguments are no different. It is easy to get carried away and forget that you are not truly having a private conversation. It is out there for all the world to see. It can be saved, copied or forwarded at will. As in any conversation, words should be measured in order to be used for best effect and in order to protect yourself.
Yelling, name calling, or threats whether or not they are idle, cannot be taken back once entered in the vast internet expanse.
The recent actions of the Salem Licensing Board in response to allegations of harassment and threats by multiple members of the Wiccan business community against a colleague are to be commended. I say this without being privy to the actual evidence presented, but strictly as a matter of trust in Robert St. Pierre, the Chairman of the Licensing Board.
To my knowledge, allegations like this are unprecedented in the Salem business community. As we move through this heat wave and into the peak of our summer, we can only hope that this incident was just a bump in the road.
Many different people and businesses have contributed to the success of the Salem tourist trade. No one person was solely responsible for its creation and no one personality drives it today.
October looms just ahead and it would be well advised for all to put egos, agendas, and personal feelings aside and focus on having a successful season.