The folks at DFWSEM, who are professional but refreshingly un-phony, have a meeting the second Wednesday of each month. And said meetings aren’t just fluff and filler. They bring in some heavy hitters to speak on a wide range of online marketing and social media topics, cats like Bill Hartzer and Roger Dooley and Dallas Search Engine Academy superheroine Beth Kahlich.
Last week, they snagged Andy Beal, who’s more entertaining than a dachshund in a cardigan, to speak on what not to do online under any circumstances and then how to fix it when you do it anyway.
I blogged about it for Argent Media over at the [Ag] Search Blog, but here at Stately Studer Manor, I wanted to concentrate on one point he made. One, because it neatly dovetails with my personal philosophy of Don’t Be Creepy. Also because it was a profoundly weird story. And because sometimes, hey, we all need to be reminded of certain rules. A particular rule often called Wheaton’s Law in the nerdier sectors of the intarwebz. Y’know, Wil Wheaton? Ensign Crusher of the Enterprise? Nemesis of Sheldon Cooper? Yep, he’s got a Law. Which is this:
During his No, Seriously, Don’t Do That presentation, Beal gave a truly amazing example of failing to adhere to this law. Here’s how the caper went down.
Once upon a time, in Merrie Olde England, there was a trainee accountant named Emma Way. Emma was driving down a narrow country lane in Norfolk when she encountered Toby Hockley, a chef who was riding his bicycle. And that’s when things took a bad turn.
First, she clipped him with her car.
Then she drove away from the scene of an accident.
Finally, she tweeted about it.
No, really. Let that sink in. She tweeted about committing vehicular assault. Thusly: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have the right of way – he doesn’t even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists.”
Ms. Way forgot that unless your social media is locked down tight, everyone can see it. Employers. Infirm aunties. Law enforcement. Due to that last category of potential readers, she had to go to court, and her unhappiness ensued.
But the kicker, the cherry atop this particular sundae of awfulness, is that she described the tweet as the biggest regret of her life. Not knocking the cyclist over with her car. Nope. The tweet. That was the mistake.
She was mistaken about the mistake. The mistake was she that was a schmuck.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that you are going to be attempting vehicular manslaughter. And I certainly don’t mean to imply that I’ve never massively screwed up. But Ms. Way did have a point — if there’s a problem, ladies and gentlebeings, we do not put it online.
Employee being a moron? Don’t tweet it.
Partner a close talker who needs mouthwash? Don’t Facebook it.
Coworker wearing headphones and recreating the whole of Beyoncé’s Partition video without realizing anyone is watching? Ok…that you should put on Instagram. But only with permission. Because otherwise, you’re breaking Wheaton’s Law.
So just…don’t. Don’t do it. On social media or off. Don’t be a dick. Both Andy and Wil are rooting for you.
(By the way, next month DFWSEM is bringing in Matt Wallaert, and it’s going to be amazing. Just a little tip from me to you.)