Scott Shor of Edmund's Oast in the photo that launched a thousand trolls
Have you or someone you know been the victim of restaurant bullying? Each day, more and more chefs and owners fall prey to personal attacks from anonymous online critics, and all too often they are left with few other options than to grin and bear it. That was until Edmund’s Oast owner Scott Shor took the stage of the Sottile Theatre Friday evening to speak out about this growing national epidemic.
As a presenter at the Charleston Wine and Food festival’s Pecha Kucha event, Shor only had a few minutes to discuss a topic close to his heart. He chose to start things off with a look at the comments sections of a City Paper
article from 2014 that discussed Bon Appetit
’s inclusion of Edmund’s Oast in their annual list of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America. Accompanying the article was a photo of Shor looking pretty snazzy. Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way — much to Shor’s surprise.
“One of the things that I wasn’t really expecting that has turned out to be really, really funny is how often behind the veil of anonymity, and sometimes without it, people are very brazenly willing to sort of throw criticism your way, even when it’s of a personal, unwarranted nature,” said Shor.
He added, “It was a sort of tongue-in-cheek, silly picture. It wasn’t meant to be serious, but then someone online at City Paper
chimed in with ‘But on to more important things. Yes, Scott Shor looks like a total douchebag in that picture. I don’t think that was what he is going for, but it is what it is.’”
Yeah, that’s rough, but it wasn’t over just yet. Shor then went on to list a few other choice criticisms from commentors that had less to do with the restaurant’s quality and more to do with personal attacks.
“Here’s another one. Same picture. ‘I have to admit — that photograph of Scott Shor is like a Rorschach test. Does he look like a classy young man on the rise or like a pretentious douche?’ So there’s a common theme here. This is like the douche segment of what I’m going to talk about tonight where different people like to call me a douche on the Internet with minimal basis,” Shor said. “And then there’s one other thing. It’s the hipster thing. It’s a very loose term. I don’t have a set definition of what it means. ... Here’s another one. I’m just going to read the highlight: “As soon as we walked in, I knew it was the wrong place for me, though. I don’t own skinny jeans or a plaid shirt with snaps. I don’t wear loafers without socks and a sweater around my neck.”
Then things just got ugly as Shor discussed the next comment: “‘There isn’t a pressure washer on the green earth that can blast away the hipster douche at Edmund’s Oast. Fuck that place.’ Yeah, fuck it. By the way, I’m just a middle-aged, overweight, bald guy who lives in Mt. Pleasant with his wife and son. I don’t know if I meet the definition of hipster. I still don’t know what that moving target definition is.”
Shor played the insults for laughs, but other than the innate humor of someone reading out crude insults hurled at himself and his business, what was Shor’s point? He spent a few more minutes going through Yelp reviews and a comment card from one customer who simply wanted to inform Shor that he was doomed, but is there a lesson here?
Well, chances are we’ve all had someone say something hurtful to us online for little to no reason. The important thing is to not let the destructive criticism take over. There are plenty of times when you’ll make a mistake and someone will be there to call you on it. And that’s important. You should keep your ears open for that sort of input. But another key part of success is learning to laugh at the times you get called a douche, a hipster, or even a hipster douche.
Now, we’ll open the floor up to comments.