Sorry, I was (tweeting) drunk
|September 21, 2011||Posted by Sophy Bot under Identity, Work/Life Separation|
Come on, admit it, you’ve done it too: you’ve sent out an update to your social networks while under the influence. Now that we all have laptops and carry around perpetually connected smartphones in our pockets, downtime is practically a thing of the past. We update our Facebook status while waiting in line, check on our Google+ feeds at the doctor’s office, and – oftentimes – we send out a tweet from the bar. But, as Alex Wilhelm asks in a new post on The Next Web, is drunken tweeting always such a bad thing?
Context is, of course, key. As graduate student Stacy Snyder learned a few years back, a seemingly innocent joke about drunkenness can carry some serious consequences. Snyder was denied graduation from Millersville University after a photo was discovered under her MySpace profile titled “Drunken Pirate,” in which she was pictured wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. So at what point in our online drunkenness do we cross the line?
As technology has become increasingly ubiquitous, the old lines separating life from work have become increasingly blurred. A seemingly innocuous photo taken in a social setting is examined through a different lens when it makes its way into academia or the business world. Likewise, a silly drunken tweet that amuses one group of followers is just as likely to be wholly inappropriate to another. Unfortunately, we often have no way of knowing where those lines are drawn and at what point we cross them. When our bosses are easily able to view our social indiscretions, who bears the burden of responsibility – is it up to us to be more careful, or is it up to them to be more realistic about what goes on in our downtime? The reasonable approach would be to do both.
Take, for instance, my own personal twitter feed, sprinkled liberally with curses, euphemisms and dirty jokes. My tweets on that account are directed towards a certain type of follower – essentially, towards a certain kind of person who enjoys a certain type of inappropriate joke. One day, during a 6-month stint in Portugal, I tweeted this:
It would take two months for me to learn that my mom does, in fact, read that twitter feed. Thankfully, she knows her daughter’s sense of humor and was not offended. But again, it begs the question: where are the boundaries between the parts of our life that are personal, and the parts of our lives that are exposed to our family and business colleagues? And better yet: do those boundaries even exist anymore? Perhaps it’s time we take a better look at ourselves and realize that we are complex beings, capable of posting drunken tweets at night and articulate posts in the morning. The old boundaries aren’t coming back. Maybe it’s time we stop pretending that we are one-dimensional beings and allow for the occasional indiscretion. As Wilhelm points out in his post:
“You have to ask yourself what the cost is for appearing a bit unprofessional when three winds into the blanket (close enough). Do people look down on the fact that you just tweeted that your friend ducked outside to be sick, but came back and tried to play it cool? And that you then bought him a beer? And if your personal failings become more public due to liquid-induced verbosity and functional 3G coverage, is that such a bad thing? I don’t think so, but I’m not exactly ready to invite Twitter back into my (usually not alcohol-centered) social life.”
Photo credit: palindrome6996