Posted: June 15, 2011
Ten ways to avoid a Weiner roasting
Tread carefully onlineJohn Heckers
Anthony Weiner, widely seen as a rising progressive star, is now just a punch line. If you want to avoid a similar fate, especially in your work life, here are some vital things to realize about your online presence and networking in general.
1). Your online activities are not private. They are not personal. They are not protected. Anything you put online can be broadcast from the housetops. It doesn't matter what your privacy settings are. Understand clearly that everything on-line is public and act accordingly.
2). Understand that Denver is a very small town. If you sneeze in Boulder, they'll say "Bless you!" in Englewood. I'm continually amazed and gratified at how many people I know, and how many people we have in common. But this is a two-edged sword. When you're a well-networked person, you also live, to a degree, in a fishbowl. People are talking about you. Do what you can to make what they say nice.
3). Be honest. If you lie on your profile somewhere, it will be found out. You will wind up being exposed one way or another.
4). Don't enter into intimate relationships with a fantasy. Messaging and long, revelatory emails, and even long telephone calls can be very deceptive. A sense of trust and intimacy can build. This is almost always a fantasy. If you're single and careful, this is pretty harmless except to your heart. If you're married or do stupid things on-line, this can cost your marriage and your job, and possibly your career. Enter into intimate relationships with real people, not people you only know on-line.
3). Nothing is confidential. If you don't want your 87 year old mom (or 99 year old grandma) to hear it, don't do it. Certainly emailing or Tweeting intimate body parts is out. But think before you do anything that you don't want "out there."
4). Be careful what you promise. Of course, you can't be responsible for what people hear. But promise carefully. If you promise it....do it. If you don't keep your promises, it will get out to your network.
5). Remember that nothing you say in networking meetings is confidential, nor is anything you do. If you are rude, damaging, dangerous, or a networking nerd, others have a perfect right to tell other people about you.
6). Don't trash someone well known and well respected. If you say nasty things about someone who is well-networked, you had better have a great deal of evidence to back up your opinions or you will wind up looking like the fool.
7). If caught, tell the truth or say nothing. Don't lie. If you are caught in a lie, don't lie to cover up the lie. This only makes it worse. If you have done something seriously wrong, say nothing unless you have your attorney present. Never talk to the media or to the police. Neither have your best interests at heart.
8). Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't still out to get you. There is absolutely no privacy left in America anymore. You should not assume that anything you do or say, even so-called "private" conversations with trusted friends, is truly private. Anyone would be a fool to put private information in an email these days.
9). Remember that emails, IMs and texts can be saved...and forwarded. You are constantly creating a "paper trail" for yourself whenever you email, IM or text someone. While oral conversations can certainly be recorded, it is nowhere near as easy to do so as to save a written message.
10). Remember that what seems innocent today can be misconstrued tomorrow. Be incredibly careful in what you put in IMs, emails and texts. You may simply be joking or flirting. But today's joking or flirting can take on a sinister cast when it is looked at through the lens of something coming to light that is not innocent.
The ubiquity of social networking is connecting people in previously unimagined ways. It can also be a trap for those who are not careful. Do not ruin your job chances, your career or your marriage through incredibly stupid on-line behavior. You'd really be a Weiner if you did.
John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.