The Business-Technology Weave

Feb 22 2011   9:02AM GMT

Time to Grow Up

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


We’ve discussed the online perils of social networking on this blog before.  Incidents not only continue to increase in number, but seem to involve those of higher profile as time goes by.

You may have missed it, but a CBS chief foreign correspondent, Ms. Lara Logan, was attacked while covering the power struggle in Egypt recently.  Quite a few pundits came under fire for inappropriate comments, but journalist Nir Rosen became a high-profile case when he was pressured to resign his fellowship at New York University’s Center on Law and Security.

The story was well-reported by major news outlets.  Post-resignation, Mr. Rosen himself weighed in.  You can read Mr. Rosen’s rambling account right here, courtesy of

How 480 characters unraveled my career

Perhaps this comment from Mr. Rosen is most telling:

There’s probably some larger lesson about social media to be drawn here, and how its immediacy can be great in its power to connect us, but also a liability because something blurted out and not meant to be serious acquires a greater power.

There is “probably” some larger lesson…? 

I have some advice for Mr. Rosen and all who read this:  People in 1747 understood that the written word carried a measure of potential penalty:  No facial expressions are available to moderate what is being said when writing; there are no reciprocal facial cues from a recipient to allow adjustment, amendment, or apology for the communication’s style (even in the speed of the online world’s written missives); and there is no inflection in the “voice” of the writer. 

Prudency used to dictate, particularly on touchy subjects, that one would write a letter, sleep on it, and review it next day prior to post. 

Absent an exigency where speed is of the essence, my suggestion regarding e-mail and social media communication is to draft, review, modify as necessary, and review again… then send or post after a little thought:  There is very real danger in a “stream of consciousness” post, and be particularly careful when engaging in live written chat. 

Consider the peril that faces anyone:  Employers are now stumbling on employees’ social media sites, and discovered disparaging information about them, the workplace, the customers/clients, and how much that employee dislikes the job.  Guess what’s next?  You’re fired.

Particularly for readers of this blog with children:  Sit them down and discuss all perils of the online experience.  It’s not just a matter of who is contacting them, or the warnings about keeping their passwords secure, and so forth.  It’s also about the content that they place on the web, and the record they are creating that, rightly or wrongly, may cause others to assume negative character traits.  Any web trail is hard to scrub.

And for some further perspective, you might want to make those kids aware of things such as this:

How to Lose a Job via Facebook in 140 Characters or Less

Facebook Post Costs Waitress Her Job


As to Mr. Rosen:  Sir, you definitely need to grow up.  It’s 2011.


On this day:  In 1923, transcontinental airmail service begins. 

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