A recent court case just upheld the right of an employer to terminate an individual who had posted/tweeted inappropriate material regarding the employer. The court held that this sort of behavior was not a first amendment right. If you are not a government employee, generally speaking, employers are much freer to fire you for what you post on the Internet. If you use social media or the Internet to post opinions, photos, or videos that you think your boss or your employer’s owner may find to be damaging to the employer or too unconventional or controversial for their tastes, you do so at your own risk. In this case the Text messages had been written several years in the past. For better or worse what you put in “the cloud” stays there for ever.
We see the younger generation constantly on their “devices” communicating all manner of information. Much of what is sent will be drifting around in the cloud for years, perhaps forever. Think about what your teenage son or daughter is sending out and then think about how they will feel if that material somehow finds its way into a background check for a future job. Even our “gray hair” group can be seen wandering down the street smart phone in hand texting and sending photos. We are all guilty of the dreaded TMI – sending and receiving too much information.
We are growing a culture that is self-focused and narcissistic. Our smart phones can provide us with incredible amounts of information. But can we be sure the information is valid, valuable and relevant to your current situation. When did texting become more useful than a phone call where you can actually exchange nuanced ideas verbally and resolve a question in seconds that takes five or six text messages to develop? And your phone call is less likely to come along later and cause an issue when someone else inadvertently sees the series of text messages. Just because we can take a selfie or send a text does not mean we should.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Get away from your phone and computer for at least a couple hours every day. Remember what it feels like to quietly think for yourself and think about others. Consider shutting off your phone for the day on weekends. Yes, there are good reasons to text but less than you might want to admit.
- Put your phone in a drawer at work and leave it alone until lunch time or break time. We require this of our doctors and staff unless they are monitoring a family emergency/illness.
- Carefully confirm the email address when you are replying to someone. That error caused the condo association blow up mentioned above.
- If you are angry or upset think it over before you email or text your feelings. The old adage that still works well is – write down your feelings on a sheet of paper. Sleep on it and read it in the morning. Then decide what you really want to do.
- If you want to express yourself to someone pick up the phone and call. If you are not comfortable calling one to one you probably should not be texting.
- Confirm with people what address they want texts or mail sent to. Honor their requests.
- Avoid any discussion group or email group that engages in gossip, triangulation or sharing rumors.
- Be careful. What you put on the web or in the cloud can and will come back and hurt you.