If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Parents have bestowed children with this advice for generations.
What happens when you’re not saying it, you’re sending it? Do the rules change?
The Internet has allowed so many to hide behind the glowing face of a computer screen to say all those not nice things our parents warned us about.
As much as we would like to think there are minimal consequences for the actions we take online, sooner or later we have to face the fact that etiquette and civility have not fully evolved to include how one should act on the Internet. It is about time that we do.
There can be repercussions for things done online months or even years after the exchange.
The World Wide Web is encroaching every aspect of our lives from how we interact with friends and family, how we meet new people, and especially how we promote ourselves.
Colleges, as well as employers, can search an applicant’s Facebook page, Instagram account, even Google their name to see what shows up. It could mean the difference between being hired and overlooked.
We can be characterized by how we interact online. What we say and how we say it matter as much as if we were in a face-to-face conversation. Despite the blank screen in front of you, the difference between an in-person and online conversation is deteriorating. It is best to assume everyone will see what you post because everyone does have the ability to.
Celebrities, industry leaders and politicians, exploring the uses of the Internet, can be caught in a struggle from what they say versus what they posted.
The Internet is not Las Vegas. Everyone can access almost anything that is done online. There are very few secrets anymore.
Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers, was banned and fined by the NBA for recordings of racist remarks that surfaced online.
Ben Tribbett, who was hired to defend the name of the Washington Redskins, had to resign after his racist tweets toward Native Americans were found online.
How many celebrities have had their character tarnished by sex tapes leaked online?
Many believe that Mitt Romney’s lack of a comprehensive online campaign was a large factor in his loss to Obama.
Anthony Weiner’s political career was ruined when he had to resign from Congress after inappropriate pictures he was sending to a woman were leaked on Twitter.
This isn’t to say the Internet hasn’t had its role in propelling and starting careers. Many YouTube stars are now household names. Justin Beiber was discovered online and, so far, destroyed himself there, too.
Kim Kardashian actually became famous due to her sex tape online. Who would have thought?
The reason some are propelled to greatness and others ruin their careers is how they act online. Anything can come back to haunt you. Just because you’re alone on the computer doesn’t mean the entire world isn’t watching.
Just recently it surfaced that Stacia Petri, Republican candidate for mayor of Warwick, had an altercation online with a political writer and lobbyist occurring only weeks before she announced her campaign. She did more than just insult the writer, but also large groups of people, including liberals and drug addicts. Her behavior could sway her potential voters.
People continue to expect that their actions online simply don’t have consequences.
One wrong joke online could ruin a campaign, a career, or a life. With the growing importance of the Internet in our lives, we must become more socially aware of our actions.
Listen to your parents.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.