Do you have the supplemental insurance that pays you money if you get injured on the job? The supplemental insurance that can help you pay for groceries, transportation, housing, and other bills? How about supplemental insurance if you send inappropriate tweets on your Twitter account and are fired from your job? Oh, Aflac doesn’t cover that last one? Sorry Mr. Gottfried.
As you may have heard, Gilbert Gottfried was let go as the voice of the Aflac duck, his jokes about the tsunami cited as a reason for his firing. This latest Twitter fiasco caused me to think about how making one’s thoughts/opinions/life public can have a serious effect on one’s employment.
In an online world, one needs to remember that anything posted on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. can be seen/shared by anyone else. Even after pulling the remarks (as Gottfried did on his Twitter account), the content is still viewable as others have kept the words alive online. Another piece to consider is tone of your comments – tone is largely lost in online communication. Without inflection, body language, and other cues, it is easy for readers to misinterpret your online communication. This is especially true with humor and sarcasm in online communication.
Emails are another communication method where one should be careful about what to include in message. Personally, I have had emails shared online by members of a LinkedIn group I run – the messages were for the individual only, but knowing that there was a chance my words could be shared to the greater online world, I chose my phrasing carefully and kept the focus on facts and not opinions or feelings. Thus, later on when the emails were posted by the readers, I was not embarrassed about any of the content.
All this said, I encourage individuals to speak up, express opinions, and share their thoughts with others, just remember that when the communication occurs online, the eyes of the world – and not just your intended audience – may see it.