Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Responsibility and Resolution With Social Media
March 26, 2009, 5:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Thoughts

I love the ease of communication today via social media. But a wise man once said that with great power comes great responsibility. I’ve grown sick and tired of the lack of personal responsibility when it comes to social media today. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point – myself included as well – and we’ve got to quit using the “I didn’t know it was wrong” excuse for everything.

I recently read an article that talked about a man who was in process of interviewing with Cisco, and upon receiving a job offer, tweeted about the “fatty paycheck” and his mental dilemma of doing work he didn’t like. This, unfortunately, is not an uncommon occurrence. I see tweets day in and day out similar to this – people talking about their bosses, their place of employment, their coworkers, etc. With the growing popularity of social media, private matters simply aren’t private any more. And guess what everyone – we’re the reason for the demise of our own online privacy. So let’s start taking some responsibility for ourselves.

When you post something through Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc., it’s now archived via the Internet. This means that it will be searchable for as long as the Internet continues to exist. Even if you’re posting on a password-protected site, people who are connected to you there can still search. So put some thought into the things you write. My own personal rule is this: I NEVER tweet, post, or respond to emails when I’m angry without first waiting 24 hours. The knee-jerk reaction to something that ruffled your feathers could come back and hurt you later on. I actually have 2 or 3 blog posts that I wrote in the heat of the moment that I’ve never published because after waiting 24 hours, I re-read them and thought to myself “This is not a good idea…” and thus saved myself from certain digital death.

It’s a bit of a paradox that we’re developing more and more ways to stay intimately connected to each other, yet there are more and more growing concerns about privacy, particularly online. My answer to this is simple: if you don’t want someone, ANYone, to know something about you, then for Heaven’s sake don’t post it or talk about it anywhere online. Filter things through a brain cell first, and consider the ripple effects of the things you say and do, and then make publicly known via your social networks.

The best case for this is when you are job hunting. If you are looking for a job, clean up your act. Take down your questionable photos from that frat party or from spring break in Cancun. We all know how much fun you had there – some of us also partied in Cancun for spring break when we were in college – but your potential employers are going to be looking for you online. Perception is reality in this case, whether it’s right or not. Don’t give people any more ammunition to use against you than is already out there.

Here’s another thing that irks me about social media communication today: hiding behind your digital presence. So much of the context of a conversation is potentially lost when you’re having a heated debate or a fight with someone via email/text/IM/Twitter. Nothing bugs me more than when I see people trying to settle an argument, miscommunication, or misconception using any of these methods. Nothing gets accomplished here, and my brother refers to people who argue and taunt in this manner as having “virtual balls” – meaning they’d never say or do those things in person. I picked up a thing or two about appropriate communication while working in the PR industry, and what I learned is that when you’re trying to resolve an issue with someone, pick up the phone and talk to them, or better yet, do it in person. Don’t post nasty little notes on Facebook or send snarky text messages. Also take the 24 hour rule into consideration – and be responsible about your relationships.

Put some common sense into your communication and your online presence. Would you say that to someone’s face? Would you show your boss those pictures? Would you communicate in that method if your job depended on it? The problem is that we’re so ready to point our fingers at everyone else but ourselves to explain and excuse our bad decisions (‘Facebook made me do it’, ‘Well they shouldn’t be looking at my profile to begin with’,  ‘I have the right to express myself’) and we’re not thinking about the (dis)comfort of anyone around us. It’s like the girl who wears skimpy clothes and then gets offended when people stare – you put those clothes on, no one forced you to do so, and people are going to stare so you’d best be prepared for the consequences of your actions. No one is to blame but you. When you don’t put any thought into the things you post to your social networks, you are putting yourself in the same situation. You have every right to do so if you want – but you don’t have the right to complain. Quit whining, grow up and take some responsibility for your own actions.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Well said!!!

Comment by Michelle Beckham

It’s funny, I tell clients not to blog drunk, angry, or about religion, and it always kicks off a story or two.

There is certainly a bad trend of people using social media poorly, but I like your tone – taking responsibility is important too.

Way too many social media enthusiasts are running with the idea that our personal twitter or Facebook lives shouldn’t be judged in the real world. Whenever you see that word, should, you know someone is trying to have their cake and eat it too.

We don’t get to say social media is private, if we’re taking it public. We can’t say it’s personal, if we’re trying to make money selling the idea to business.

Nice post.

Comment by Jim Durbin

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