Now I’m not a prude. I like a laugh and a joke the same as anyone. I have even been known to utter the occasional bad word, when in the company of good friends, just for emphasis you understand. But it seems to me we have created a monster that we can’t control that has the ability to destroy our image, our business and much more unless we are very careful indeed. It’s called social media.
I don’t know why it should be but, when chatting to ‘friends’ on social media, we seem to forget that we are supposed to be respectable business people. Skip onto any Facebook page, for example, and you will find otherwise relatively mild, reflective souls slipping into the kind of language you would normally find reserved for a dockyard or the back seat of the rugby coach – on the way home from the match.
The problem is that swearing is something that has its place. It doesn’t usually go down well with grandmothers, mother-in-laws, immigration officers, policemen or anyone with whom you do business – unless you know them really well. Unfortunately, social media is not quite that selective: everyone can see it and, for me, it’s a real turnoff. When people swear on social media they go down at least a notch on my respect gauge. I suspect others feel the same. And it’s a shame, because those same people wouldn’t dream of lapsing into the vernacular in polite company. They also have spent a great deal of time and money in building up their business persona only to have it knocked down again by a pointless rant that didn’t really do anyone any good.
But it gets worse. As I write we are on the cusp of the conference season. Conferences are characterised by long nights in the bar and jolly behaviour. In the old days it was OK: people could be relied upon for their discretion, at least in the cold light of day. But now, make a wrong move, get too close to someone attractive that you don’t know well, have a drink or two too many, and presto, the phone camera has captured the moment and someone who’s as drunk as you are has it on social media before the smell of the morning’s breakfasts has time to turn your stomach.
The world’s a dangerous place. Reputations built over decades can be scrapped in seconds. You have been warned! Steve