By now, most of you have learned of Ex-PGA President Ted Bishop’s dismissal for making sexist remarks while criticizing Ian Poulter on Twitter. Countless celebrity types have quit social media for the same reason and there’s a lesson to be learned: You need to keep it positive and clean when using social media. It’s astounding that so many folks do damage to their reputations, lose jobs, and feel forced to disengage because they cannot filter their brains before firing off a 140 character vent.
Putting this in perspective, look at Bishop. As of this writing, he had 4,246 Twitter followers. Twitter purports to have 271 million active users world wide. Let’s assume 200 million are real, so the math still indicates that 99.99% of Twitter users don’t care what Bishop thinks about or has to say. Bishop is not a celebrity but a well known individual, and yet he managed to get himself fired based on a random thought consumed by one of the 00.01% of worldwide users who cared to follow him. The thought is sobering. It’s not about the content of his comments (many of us have thought and expressed much worse in private), but how such a person of prominence could get himself dismissed for a relatively innocuous muttering. If he’d have made it in private, there would be no issue. If he’d have called Poulter and had it out directly, again no issue, but put it out in public with no context, and the damage was done.
Those of us who use Twitter, Facebook, and various blogging tools like this one should be careful. You may think you’re relatively unknown, but the wrong post can do damage. Personally, as a user of all three tools, I prefer to blog because your thoughts can be explained in depth and with greater context. It’s also a forum for folks to respond/rebut, and as an author, you can moderate the conversation. So whatever tool you use, be mindful to keep it clean and stay civil.