Standing Around the Accident – Meltdowns in Blogs and Twitter

Living life on the Internet continues to interest me.  One of the things I’ve seen recently are people, mostly young women, complaining about having web stalkers or people who flame them in Internet after they write or tweet soul bearing confessionals.   This reinforces my belief that people who bare their souls on the Internet will eventually get hurt emotionally.

In general, I don’t like to read to these types of blogs for the same reason I turn my head when I spot an accident on the side of the road.  I don’t want to see the gore.  However, I don’t think that’s how most people are.  There are people who love to stare at accidents and then comment on it as if they know what happened and where to place the blame.

One thing I can say is, unless the person is a professional blogger, blogging in public, in general, doesn’t help a person’s career.  Ranting backfires.  Readers may enjoy reading the author’s meltdown, but in the end, whether the reader agrees with the rant or not, I don’t think much respect is gained by the ranter.  Furthermore, some conservative readers may even think someone who rants is mentally unstable.   This I’ve learned first hand and, due to that tough lesson, I now keep my blog rants private.

I’ve questioned now that I’m in the middle of a job search whether I should continue to blog and whether I should make a potential employer aware of my Internet activities.  In general, I think employers view blogs and participation in social networks as a risk.  I only advertise my web presence when I think it’s an asset for the job.  But when I apply for a job that doesn’t involve the Internet or when applying to “conservative” companies, I remove of all of my web activities, with the exception of an e-mail address from my resume.

So here are some blogging rules I abide by in order keep my nose relatively clean (nothing I list will be original):

  • Never blog about anything negative in your personal life.  Yeah, yeah, you want to blog about your health problems — but before you do that, ask yourself whether this would give your employer or potential employer a reason to get rid of you or not hire you at all.  Also, there are large factions of people who believe that expressions of negativity are taboo, evil, and denotes a person who is depressed or crazy.
  • Never blog or tweet about your drug, drinking, sexual, and taboo lifestyle activities — and please don’t post pictures of your escapades
  • Never blog about religion or politics
  • Never write about non-celebrities or non-public people by their name
  • Never blog about your workplace, co-workers, or anything having to do with your job.
  • If there is an internal blog or social network in your company,  DO NOT use them unless you have to and limit it strictly to work related matters.  Don’t express any personal opinions about the company, management, projects, or anything.  Remove all emotion other than positivity and  keep to the facts — in other words, use the tools to encourage and inform.  NOTHING will get you fired or laid-off sooner than posting something to the public that pisses off a manager or executive, regardless of whether you post internal or external to the company.
  • Keep your rants private
  • Keep your self righteousness to yourself (still working on that myself)
  • Don’t follow or allow yourself to be followed by people who violate any of rules above.  Following and be followed is tacit consent, so don’t consort with anyone you wouldn’t want your employer to know about.  (If you want to follow a “train wreck,” pull RSS feed into a reader or your e-mail program.)
  • Use an alias

The Internet is one big landmine.  Hopefully, things will improve as more web savvy people move into leadership positions.  Until then, though, my suggestion is to put a lid on it and keep your negative emotions and life’s details private.

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