Friday, October 02, 2009

Tweets, Twitter and Two-Faced-Twaddle

Two experiences in the past 48 hours have led me to write this post and say what dozens of others observers have said before: "Many, if not most users of social media internet sites are completely oblivious to the long term ramifications of what they say and post online."

Recently a friend's kid was going for a job interview. He was told to "read the interview guidelines on the website." Now I went to the site and mostly thought the guidelines were very helpful, particularly for a first time job interviewee. I completely missed the subtleties of the section on employee dress code. It was strongly suggested that the job applicant present themselves in the manner which all customer service members were expected to appear on the job. This was a consumer retail store position and if you walked into any of the retail outlets, you could not help notice that everyone wore white short sleeve shirts or blouses with slacks or a skirt. Ties were not required. You didn't even have to visit a store, there were exemplar employee pictures on the website.

What I missed was that with such a mode of dress you could not hide certain tattoos. Upon a second inspection of the employee photographs, it was clear that this employer did not allow tats or body piercings beyond a limited number of earrings. I checked on West Law and at present it appears that the employer wins on this one. I am sure as the current, heavily inked generation moves higher up in the corporate world there will be changes in policy. But I have to wonder how many career advances will be retarded by some youthful skin art. I know, I know, who wants those jobs anyway. Well, I am willing to guess that the answer in many cases will be the thirty-five or forty year old with two kids and a fading satan on his forearm. As my friend Birrell says: "Tattoos: the only permanent impermanent creation."

Wait you say, this post was about social networking.

This comes from from the coverage of the final table at the World Series of Poker Europe from last night. Yes, I know, I am out of poker. But the example is just too ripe to avoid. The finals heads up competition was down to one of the poker world's favorite players: Daniel Negreanu. He was up against Barry Shulman, the publisher of CardPlayer magazine and not a favorite of many in the poker world. It was a classic confrontation between good and evil, light and dark, satan and... well you get the idea. The problem is it was really just two guys playing poker in London (with about a half a million dollars difference between 1st and 2nd place).

However, in the online immediacy of the social media (Twitter, FaceBook and the various poker forums) it was good against evil. No problem it's the internet, who cares? Well the problem for me is that many members of the poker writing community, that is those who call themselves journalists; those folks were actively rooting for Daniel Negreanu and often making derisive comments about Mr. Shulman at 140 characters a slander.

Again so what?

Well, as I have mentioned before; the openings for poker writers is dwindling every day. Hopefully, at some point the poker economy recovers but if and when that happens, who do you think will get the calls for the recovered jobs? I know if I were hiring, I would check your resume and the I would take a look at your Twitter postings and your FaceBook page. I would want to know who I could count on for fair and honest reporting. And I would make that decision based on what you have written in the past.

This is really simple. Your brain works incredibly fast on an incalculable number of thoughts and computations. If you write them down and post them on the web, they never go away. It is simply a matter of common sense, a bit of understanding of personal boundaries and some small modicum of understanding that not everything you think should be in the public domain.

Lots of the writing on the internet does not stand any sort of ethical test, which is fine. The net is the net. But when you work there, when you derive income from what you post, you should perhaps ponder the effects of spewing out your inner most thoughts or your random upsets into the great, eternal void of cyberspace. Just like that fading tattoo, your words will never go away and sometime in the future you may well be judged or hired (or not) because of something you just had to type and send after one too many glasses of cabernet.

Let the writer beware.
art credit: archives - title: social media clutter


BJ Nemeth said...

I agree with your entire post, except for this one line: "those folks were actively rooting for Daniel Negreanu and often making derisive comments about Mr. Shulman at 140 characters a slander."

While I saw plenty of messages supporting Daniel Negreanu, I didn't see anyone in the poker media tweet anything negative about Barry Shulman. I'm not saying those tweets don't exist, but I've searched hard for them and have found nothing. Can you provide any examples?

If you are arguing that since a poker tournament is a zero-sum game, anyone rooting for Daniel Negreanu is automatically saying bad things about Barry Shulman, then I take exception with that.

Anonymous said...

I think your poker related posts have been just as if not more interesting since you retired from 'poker blogging'. Works for me.

Laz said...

The things that you point out are so obvious and yet so easy to ignore when you're churning out your tweets.

It's pretty simple philosophy though really... "you reap what you sew"... "short term pain for long term gain"... etc. it ain't rocket science but some people just can't see beyond the present