Exercising Discretion: Avoiding Epic Social Media Fails

Exercising discretion on social media should be common sense, but people often fail to recognize the shock waves their behavior can produce.

We tend to view these sites as safe havens to voice our frustrations concerning a particular person or issue, it’s easy to lose sight of the potential consequences of our actions on social media platforms. Still, lapses in judgement do happen, especially when we’re passionate about a given subject and feel safe from repercussion in our discourse.

It’s important to remember that what you might view as a harmless post could have significant consequences. When we hit “send,” we’re not just voicing an opinion, we’re putting our reputation and our careers on the line. We’ve all heard the horror stories, but we usually just point and laugh and carry on with our lives rather than considering the real-life ramifications of irresponsible social media usage. A post might seem benign at the time we hit “send,” but as we become more aware, more progressive, and more politically correct as a society, we need to remember that what we might think of as an innocuous observation could actually have serious negative implications for our audience. And when the audience is offended, your bottom line could quickly become compromised.

Your professional and personal lives are obviously bound to overlap at certain times, but when they do, they should do so in a way that reflects favorably on you and your character. For instance, sharing your volunteer work on your professional Facebook site can humanize you and your firm while showcasing your community involvement. However, controversial topics that can only lead to negative attention or combative exchanges are better discussed in private or left to yourself. The same applies to any compromising photos or posts (i.e., those weekend party pictures of you doing keg stands at the lake).

Discretion isn’t tantamount to acquiescence, and it doesn’t equate to compromising your integrity or shelving your pride. Discretion consists of a mature and responsible approach to exercising good judgement based on the wisdom of your years and experiences – the knowledge you’ve gained through your life that has led to your success.