Footprints Online Are Not in Sand

Frustration can be a very powerful motivator to do stupid things and we’ve all been guilty of letting it get the better of us. The other day I picked up my daughter from daycare and proceeded on my way to pick my wife up from the train station. On the way there some idiot cut me off and I responded with my usual #$*(# mini-tirade. Suddenly from the backseat, I hear a tiny voice and my heart sunk – I was waiting for my 2 year old to parrot back one of my swear words. I felt like a jerk for acting so with my daughter in the car. All the way home I cringed waiting for her to blurt out one of my swear words to my wife.

Now imagine if you will that same incident except that I was so angry I rolled down my window and screamed about how everyone living in my city was idiotic and horrible drivers! The results would be entirely negative. OK, likely all I would get are some scowls and perhaps a bird flipped back to me, but absolutely nothing good would come from such an action.

Yet online, we see people who just seem to forget there are consequences which may result from engaging your mouth or KB before your brain is in gear. A recent example of this would be the young UCLA woman who not only when on a rant about Asian people using cell phones in the library, but felt compelled to then record it and post it on YouTube — demonstrating a horrible sense of timing and insensitivity considering events in Japan. The results have been predictable and the consequences of her actions may well hinder this woman for years to come.

There have also been several glaring examples of stupidity on other social networks such as Twitter. The Chrysler employee who let road rage muddle his thinking and accidentally dropped the F-bomb on the corporate account while indicting motor city drivers as dweebs. Or Gilbert Gottfried who brilliantly brought back to mind the old fable of the goose who laid the golden egg by letting poor judgment and a distinct lack of class pluck his duck.

There is no “undo” button for the web. What you say today in anger or in a moment of thoughtlessness can come back and haunt you. Most especially if you are so motivated by negative emotions that you feel compelled to write or video a rant on it and then post it to a blog or media sharing site.

When you’ve had a really bad experience and you sit down at the keyboard or cam to rant, take a second and imagine that you have a small child behind you and act accordingly.

When someday my daughter decides to review the online history of my life and the footprints I’ve left behind, I sincerely hope she will be pleased and proud enough to perhaps follow in them.