The boy in the photo never imagined a time when he would have to worry about being cautious about what he said because he had no reason to fear that one day prospective employers would sift and sort through his social profiles to try and figure out what kind of person he was.
He didn’t worry about whether the witty Facebook status that made his friends laugh would make the hiring manager and Brand XYZ wonder if he lacked common sense or was some sort of troublemaker.
A Modern Day Rebel and Patriot
Many years have passed and I am old enough to have an 18 year-old child and not be questioned about how old I was when I became a dad, but I still remember who I was. That boy would have been incensed at the thought of not being to speak his mind. He would have told you that he had won awards for sports writing, had good command of the language and that anyone with common sense would worry more about whether he could do the job than what he said on some public forum.
Of course he didn’t have a clue what social media would be or any idea that one day someone would “Google” him or that he would get emails about his Twitter feed and questions about why he retweeted post XYZ.
So he would have done what he thought was right and said what he wanted to say. And that my friends provides the opportunity to share with you words from my grandfather, “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”
It is worth mentioning that my father has made sure I never forgot my grandfather’s words. Heck, during a disagreement earlier this year he spit them out at me and it was like no time had passed. Unlike old times I didn’t walk away and dream about the girl from history and wonder if maybe tomorrow I would ask her out on a date.
But I digress.
The Power of Silence
Time, age and experience have taught me the value of being careful to keep my own counsel. While friends sometimes tease me about being “soft” I like keeping my thoughts to myself in large part because I have learned the value of silence.
Silence is a wonderful tool for a multitude of reasons.
Many people are uncomfortable with it. The next time you try negotiating a contract see what happens when the other side reviews the terms and you don’t say a word. If you have a disagreement with someone silence can be very effective too.
There have been moments where I very much wanted to use colorful and descriptive words to excoriate someone I had a disagreement with. Moments where I yearned to say something that I was certain would make them understand how dumb they were and see that they were the sort of moron that made rocks look smart.
But I didn’t do it.
Most of the time it was because there was no purpose served in speaking from anger. People remember how you make them feel and when you make them feel stupid you rarely have the sort of outcome you might want.
Loose Lips Sink Ships
High school is long ago and the boy that was is no more. He watched technology explode and saw the world change.
Now I think about the boundaries of blogging and the need to be aware of what I say, print and do online. People pay attention to these things, they watch what you do.
Take a look at Best Practices: Apologies and Non-Apologies and you’ll see one of hundreds of examples of people not thinking about the consequences of their words.
The person who was handling social media for the Pantages made a huge mistake. You may think a customer’s request is unreasonable and your inclination may be to make it clear to them but you need to think twice about how you do it.
Ask Cathryn Sloane about what happened when she wrote a post suggesting that people of a certain age might be too old to run social media campaigns.
She got hammered. We can save the discussion for whether the response was fair, reasonable or other. The point is if you aren’t paying some attention to what you do online you may be placing yourself at risk.
Moderation, Balance and Community
I can’t bang out 700 push ups each day like the boy in the picture (I am working on it, back to 150) but he couldn’t have held his tongue or foreseen the consequences the way I can now. I don’t know if he would have been interested in debating content and community either, but I rather enjoy such things now.
Lots more to say and share but we’ll save those things too for a different day. It is time to go help get some things together for Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. After I wake up from my self induced turkey coma I’ll have a piece of pie in your honor.