T Nation

The Dangers Of The Blog...


#1

...A cautionary tale.

I recently learned the hard way a lesson that all of you on the internet should heed. There is no degree of anonymity in cyberspace. Either you are totally anonymous, giving no details of yourself, not your true name, your momma?s dogs name or even your shoe size. Or else consider everything on the table when you post in Cyberspace. There is no in between I?m afraid. We have it a little better on T-Nation since our profiles don?t contain volumes of information. And as I write this I think back to posts I?ve made in the past three years and realize I may be ignoring the very warnings I am giving. But here goes.

A few months back, I discovered MySpace. More specifically I discovered blogs on MySpace. I decided to start writing just to try and create some comedy bits, maybe voice an opinion on things going on in the local community. Soon though, I realized I liked writing. And I was getting enough positive feedback from friends and complete strangers that I broadened my scope and include rants on a variety of subjects. I vented about things at work, never using anyone?s name, and lamented on situations I was dealing with. The entire time, I never said anything I felt was insulting or derogatory about anyone. Some of the blogs dealt with more adult subjects and I put a warning on these blogs. I felt I had something going my way, a way to express the burnout and frustration I was feeling and do something creative.

Then it all backfired.

At the beginning of the month my boss came in and handed me a three page reprimand alleging everything from being unprofessional to unethical to being a pervert and a deviant. It all centered on my writings. Apparently in my zeal I had not foreseen two things.

First, I put on my page just about every detail about myself except for phone number and hat size {7 ? in a Stetson.}. Where I worked, had gone to school, what I did, it was all there. I live in a small town, everyone knows me, and the few local folks who were on MySpace also were friends in the real world. What I didn't factor in that MySpace is a wide open thing, and anyone and everyone can view that information without your knowledge. Anyone can see it, and can think whatever they want about it.

Second, I had vented and ranted profusely about my job and particular situations at work. I did so with no thought that hey, the boss might see this one day. Call me dumbass. Worse, the boss?s boss was the one who saw it and brought it to his attention. Call me El Dumbass Supremo!!! Now before you scream FIRST AMENDMENT as other friends have, let me add I work for a pseudo-government agency. We have a code of conduct and in the employees manual it speaks of behavior that could be embarrassing or unprofessional as viewed by the powers that be. That was the kicker.

One of my blogs was a straight up comedic rant on masturbation. Hell I might repost it here, got a lot of good feedback on it. Mods, let me know yay or nay. Anyhow, this purely comedic adult piece, posted mind you with a 36 pt font warning on top of it, well before any actual part of the blog, apparently offended certain individuals in my community. They went running to the powers that be and it all went from there.

To cut to the chase, my career is now damaged and possibly in jeopardy. My duties are being reassigned and I must under go counseling for possible burnout issues. Which is all fine and good. I am in danger of burning out, if not already smoldering. I?m in process of resetting priorities in my life and cutting loose from a lot of things that have been taking up too much of my time. And as TC advised, I am letting go of the rock. I?m writing a novel and hopefully will be able to do something with it and make a career out of words.

In closing, friends we all do well to heed this warning: If you post it on the net, consider it on your resume. If it can be linked back to you in anyway, someone will try to. Do not be afraid to express yourself, speak your mind or say what needs to be said. But above all else, in all that you do and write, remember the first rule. CYA at all times.

Later days.


#2

Thanks for the heads up! I believe you can set your Myspace blog to under age 15, which mean no one can view it, only people you allow.

Anyways, you have to always be careful on the net with info. Words travel mighty fast in these times.


#3

At my place of employment, I recently found out it is standard practice to "google" prospective employees and check myspace/facebook pages. It's a real concern.


#4

Maybe next time you should read the Terms of Privacy provided by the host before you registered. Guess you just clicked the "I Agree" button.

Live and learn.


#5

VERY good advice my man...I've always just operated under the assumption that people DO read what I put on the net and I therefore don't put up anything that I would not share in person. Nothing that isn't true. Nothing that my wife would get upset with...etc...


#6

Yep! I google everyone I know to see what dirt I can find. Not that I have any intention of doing anything with it. I just think of it as a tool. Unfortunately, this is a lesson I think most of us will come to realize as information becomes even more available and easier to access. Big-brother will have all the dirt he ever needs on anyone all the time. We can forget about first amendment rights in the future. We will be disposable because we are unliked.