Clay Adams | April 23rd, 2014
Rarely does a week (day?) go by without someone, somewhere doing something stupid on social media.
What is it that seems to take seemingly well adjusted, successful (well, at least until they did what they did) and creative individuals to do something that is so out of touch with just about every fabric of judgement, common sense and – in some cases – human dignity?
Case in point (pardon any implied pun) was the bizarre tweet by a US Airways employee this past week.
Now in case you missed it, then you are out of luck – at least here. The image is truly quite bizarre and absolutely pornographic. You might even say it is a reminiscent of that 70s skin flick Debbie Does Dallas, except this time she went via Fort Worth with a change of planes in Salt Lake City.
While US Airways hastily removed the offensive tweet – and it was offensive, even to me which probably says a lot (ask those who know me) – it is still lurking out there in internet land somewhere. After all, you can find just about anything on the internet if you look hard enough.
For example, did you know that wearing headphones for an hour will increase bacteria in your ear by 70 percent? That a duck’s quack doesn’t echo? Or that 50 percent of the world’s population have never made or received a phone call (although their lack of connectivity is more than compensated for by my teenage daughter and her friends, I’m sure).
Don’t be dumb
The key lesson here continues to be not to dumb things online. Actually, it is good not to dumb things period but make absolutely sure that when you do, you don’t share them online.
One of the challenges of social media is trying to stand out from the online clutter. As a medium, it is like advertising. We are bombarded with countless information daily or, to be exact, 295 exabytes (29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000) of data. Told you anything can be found on the internet.
To stand apart from the noise, you need to be different…special…unique. Not dumb. Recent examples of less-than-clever tweets are Campbell’s Spaghetti O’s salute to those who died at Pearl Harbour (because we all think of canned pasta when honoring the war dead); the Chrysler employee who tweeted “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive deleted) drive.”; or Home Depot whose “Spot the difference” tweet led to international condemnation.
And let’s not just blame Twitter for such gaffes. Take a look at the bizarre baggage handling video of two Air Canada employees posted this past week on You Tube; or the newspaper ad promotion by Tumbledown Trails Golf Course in Wisconsin on the anniversary of 9/11. Who said you need online tools to make a fool of yourself?
Whether these tweets and campaigns were deliberate, malicious, mistakes or just plain dumb, all have something in common – those involved were fired. Not quite the career change they expected.
We have policies for a reason
Good corporate organizations have policies in place to guide employees in using social media wisely. VCH has one and, if you haven’t already, at least look at it. Pleading ignorance is no excuse for, well, ignorance.
The message here is simple. Think…think again…pause…then think again. Then, if all else is fine, go for it. The internet might be forgiving, but it is also forever.