It comes back around every few months. Someone is surprised that they got in trouble at work for tweeting something negative about the company. Or they posted on Facebook about how they called in sick to work to get drunk with their friends, forgetting that they “friended” their boss and are shocked that they lost their jobs. There are the students who get freaked out when the school or professor comments on a post.
But why? When you post something on the world-wide web there is a very good chance that someone in the world will see it. There really is no such thing as private on the internet. There are glitches and hacks all the time. Nothing you post anywhere is really private.
And it lives forever. Once you hit send the picture, joke or rant is out of your hands and out there for others to use and consume the way they see fit. Sure you can recall an email, but it doesn’t get it unseen. And if you don’t recall it fast enough it could be tucked away in a folder somewhere waiting for a chance to surprise you.
The ability to share thoughts and feelings as we have them is addicting. Having followers and friends who will listen and comment on life’s ups and downs provides a certain feeling of power. But what people forget is those thoughts and feelings don’t just go out to the people who follow you, they can go to anyone who’s looking for them. Those pictures from the weekend if Vegas with college friends are not going to stay in Vegas.
More and more people are getting haunted while looking for a job. Rachel Gogos discusses how social media can hurt your job hunt and keep you from landing the job of your dreams. What seems like a harmless tweet today could be found by a recruiter or hiring manager and keep you from being considered for a job. Put yourself in their place. Would you hire a woman for a teaching position when googling her name brings up pictures of keg stands and wardrobe malfunctions? Or a man for a diversity program who has a drunken rant against ethnic groups on YouTube?
And while there are companies that can excise your on-line demons, you can save some time and money by being smart. Don’t put pictures, videos, tweets or status updates or blog posts that can and will come back to bite you. I know, easier said than done. It’s harder today than it was when you only had to worry about your reputation for as long as someone had the photographs. You could only be embarrassed by them in front of the people someone was able to show them too. Today it takes seconds for your reputation to change.
The moral of the story is this, think before you send. Take a moment to pause before a picture gets taken or cameras start to roll or you send that post. Is this really what you want to be known for? Is this what you want people world-wide to know or think about you? Once that button gets clicked it’s too late to take it back.