When you decide to interact on the internet, don't forget your responsibility to choose your message wisely. Technology excites people, they get fired up. They are excited because they just came up with a thought, an answer to a question, a reaction to an earlier discussion. They immediately react, they have to post it to their blog, shoot it out as an e-mail, tweet it to their friends.
Is your approach --> Ready --> Fire! --> Aim?
Do you compose your message right from your brain directly to the tool you are using? You really should think about what you are firing, and where you are firing. It is a good idea to open up notepad, and dump your thought into a sentence first. Take a look at what you are about to say. Think about how your message might impact you, your business, your colleagues.
Think about where you are aiming your message before you fire it off. Whether it is a job interview or a sales presentation, there are many times when people will ask you why you are better than the competition. Be careful! If you can't say it as a positive benefit, don't say it!
During a recent conversation I had with a salesperson he made an unsolicited negative remark about one of his competitors. Since it was just myself and the salesperson present at the time, the remark he made was only heard by myself. Whether I agreed with the remark or not, I thought the negative comment was out of place. Had this remark been made using some form of social media, it would have circled the globe in a few hours.
Think before you post!
I create a lot of Internet content myself, so most of what comes up on search engines with my name on it is content I have created and control. If someone writes something nasty about me, and I do not control the page, I can only hope to write more that is attached to my name and pushed down the nasty stuff. If I have something on a page that I created, yes I can delete that page, and eventually, the search engines will stop tracking it. But there are still places I can find that page.
There is a practice called content scraping where people take content from your site and post it on their site. I've written a lot of things on the internet over the past twenty years. Some of the advice and inspiration I share is from my own personal experiences. I have found pages that I have created all over the internet. I wrote a poem and used photos of my kids to illustrate it. I found the poem and my kids' pictures on someone's website. It did not reference me or give any credit to me. I was able to get the content removed.
Over the years I have printed out copies of information, you know, the old fashion way of printing things on paper! I am glad I did! Websites come and go. I have kept some information in a binder on research I did many years ago, and the sites no longer exist.
There is also a website called The Internet Archive where you can enter in a web address, and it will show you how it looked in the past. They don't archive every site, every day, but they do periodically make copies of sites to archive them. I can find copies of some of my websites there dating back to 1999!
To elaborate a bit more on the concept of archiving and cache, even if you could entirely delete any memory of your blog from Google, that does not mean that content is gone and can't be found.
Just like people make copies of music and movies, in case they lose the originals, backups of websites are make every day for security purposes. Just as I have explained here with scraping and archiving, people make entire copies of websites all the time. Various types of servers cache websites for offline view as part of their routine services.
So there is a very important lesson to be learned. There really is no "do-over" button. Think before you post!
Don't underestimate the power of the internet
There is a really big reason for choosing your message wisely on the internet. Once you send that e-mail, post that page, launch that tweet, your message is forever traveling through the web in cyberspace.
There are NO secrets on the Internet. Once you put something online it stays there. Even deleting or retracting comments after they are made, online entries are nearly impossible to completely erase from cyberspace. Things like silly photos of activities that seemed like a good idea at the time and off-color remarks about your competition may come back to haunt you.
There have been many incidents on the internet where someone tweets an off-color remark or posts something to Facebook that causes a stir. The person who created the original comments will spend many follow up comments trying to explain exactly what they meant.
Follow up explanations and retractions never seem to be enough to undo the damage. Once you put something online it stays there. Even deleting comments after they are made online entries are nearly impossible to completely erase from cyberspace.
The traditional catchphrase of "look before you leap" is replaced in the modern world of cyberspace with "think before you tweet."
Didn't your mother ever tell you, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?
You have a responsibility to choose your message wisely.<< Understanding the power and responsibility of the internet
Tom Peracchio is not a university professor with a team of editors and advisers. He is one man who loves technology and history and tells stories to increase awareness, educate, and entertain. Support the efforts of Tom in developing the Guru 42 Universe by your small donation here at Buy me a coffee.