Some time ago, when I was an executive at a production company, I ran out to do a weekend errand in grubby clothes, no makeup, hair pulled back. Not my proudest sartorial moment, but I was in a hurry. Needless to say, I ran into my CEO’s wife in the store, and was mortified for her to see me in such a state.
I had an epiphany then: “If you don’t want someone to see you looking that way, don’t go out looking that way.”
This same lesson holds true when we venture out online. When you say something in an electronic form, it will be indexed and stored and searchable later. The context, however, will be lost, and something that’s funny in response to someone else’s tweet (for example) may look mean, or bigoted, or just idiotic when viewed on its own.
Peter Shankman touched on this in his recent blog post Five Ways Not To Screw Up Your Next Networking Attempt. He wrote,
…in the end, we’ll only have one network — It’ll have everyone in our lives, both business and professional, and we’ll have to be smart enough to know that what we post can be seen by everyone, forever.
We’re not all going to run for office or run a company. Life is messy sometimes, and we all deserve to have fun, blow off steam, and be ourselves. That’s no excuse not to be constantly vigilant about what we tweet or post or blog. Because our current or future bosses, employees, customers, vendors, family and friends are going to be able see it.
Is that how you want to be seen?