Unsolicited Advice: Be Careful at Holiday Parties

Self-Portrait, Christmas-Style by jimw from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Self-Portrait, Christmas-Style by jimw from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Back when I was in high school and college, there was always one friend at every party who brought a camera and a few days after the party that people would be confronted with the evidence of the stupid things they did the previous weekend. I was lucky because this was back in the days of film. If the person only had one roll of film, they only had 24 chances to capture footage from the party so they would be more thoughtful about what they captured. And they knew the pictures would be processed by a person so they rarely shot anything that would get them into trouble.

Those days are long gone. Now everyone has a smartphone with a built in camera and video camera in their back pocket. If there is a moment worth capturing at a party, it will be recorded, probably by multiple people. And then it will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. 30 seconds later, before the poster really has had a chance to think through whether they should be sharing that image or video with the Internet-accessible planet. If they decide later to delete the post, who knows how many times it will have been seen, shared, downloaded, and what that effect might be (on everyone involved).

The holiday season is upon us. Between now and New Year’s there will be copious gatherings, parties, and other frivolity. A lot of people will be drinking and making asses of themselves while under the influence. If that’s you, you may want to take it easy because you don’t know and usually have no control over whether someone will take a picture of you or where it will end up.

If you’re that guy who is swift to whip out their phone to snap a photo of your buddy or random strangers doing stupid things, think before you shoot and share. It might be funny in the moment, but it could have dire consequences for the person in the photo. And you might look like a thoughtless jerk for being the person who took and shared the photo in the first place.

Remember – just because you’re in a photo it doesn’t mean you own it or have any say over where it is published.

Have a safe and happy holiday season! If you want to chat with me about this or any other topic, you can connect with meTwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
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Don’t Post Stupid Stuff Online

Gestures by Tuppus from Flickr

When I was a kid, I had a shirt that said “think” across the chest and “act” across the back. There was tiny print around the bottom hem that had a series of statements that said “think before you ________.” The shirt’s message was, “Think before you act.” If the company made this shirt today, they should modify the design to say, “Think before you post.”

Think B4 U Post by Mister Norris from Flickr

It blows my mind how much stupid shit people post on the internet, and most of the time, you can tell they do it because they think it’s funny in the moment and they don’t think it all the way through. Before you post anything on the internet, regardless of what it is and where you’re putting it, ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  2. How many ways could this blow up in my face?

We all know how fast an internet post can spread like wildfire. Look at this post by a girl who lost her hat that she got from her mother who died of cancer at the Phoenix airport. I’m sure tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people have seen it. I hope she gets it back. This post went viral because her story touched people’s hearts, but other posts go viral because they’re so offensive.

Always beware of the court of public opinion. You can look like a massive ass on the internet without doing anything illegal. If you do that, be ready for your reputation to be tarnished. That offensive post could easily become the number one result when someone Googles your name, which will hurt your professional and personal lives.

And if you make an offer in a post that is believable, don’t be shocked if someone accepts it. If you post on Facebook, “I lost my phone in a cab in NYC. I’ll give $10K to whoever returns it.” You better get your checkbook out when you get it back or you might find yourself in court for breach of contract.

If you post something on the internet and it garners strong negative reactions, there isn’t much you can do if you don’t like it unless they cross the line into the realms of invasion of privacy or defamation. The only thing you can really do at that point is damage control.

Carter Law Firm’s Postcards

If you post something online and regret it after the fact, deleting it may not be enough to save you. Once you put something out there, you can’t control how many times it will be downloaded, shared, re-posted, and re-tweeted. It only takes a few seconds to create a post, but you may be living with the consequences forever.

The take away lesson: Think before your post…really think. Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t put on the front page of the newspaper.

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Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.