Social Networking and E-mail: Friend or Foe?
It's hard to ignore all the press e-mails and social networking I have been getting into the last few weeks. There's the governor from South Carolina, who is in hot water over e-mails to his mistress. Recently, Governor Sarah Palin is back in the news over some e-mail exchanges with John McCain's staffers on the topic of her husband, Todd's involvement with the Alaska Independence Party. Supposedly, he belonged for seven years, and this party's chief goal is Alaska's succession from the United States. Oh boy!
One of the worst social networking mistakes happened recently on Twitter with novelist Alice Hoffman. When she read a bad review of her latest book in the Boston Globe and she thought the reviewer gave away too much of the plot, she voiced her frustration on Twitter. She went too far when she publicized the reviewer's e-mail and phone number. She's had her publicist release an apology, and Hoffman no longer has a Twitter account. You can read the full story here.
In the last year since Facebook has taken the world by storm, there have been reports of employers checking Facebook and MySpace pages and basing employment on things they have found there.
So, what does this tell us? We should learn from these other people's mistakes. We should learn from history. Here are a few tips when dealing with social media and e-mail. Remember, you are a writer, who is trying to build a platform for your work! You don't want to be in the middle of a controversy and ruin your career.
- When you are angry, DON'T e-mail, Twitter, use Facebook, or any other sort of social media. Don't blog until you calm down. You can still voice your concerns and opinions and frustration, but you are more likely to do it in a composed manner once you've cooled off. It's similar to arguing with your spouse. It goes much better when the two of you calm down.
- Anything electronic can be leaked and seen. You know the age-old advice--if you have a secret, don't tell ANYONE if you want to keep it that way. The same is true for e-mail (especially), social networking, and blogging. If you don't want what you are writing to be leaked out to the press or your neighbors or your family in any way, then don't write it and send it. Sure, right now, you may be working for $20 an hour as a freelance writer, and you feel no one cares what you have to say. What happens when you write the next Harry Potter novel? Everyone cares what you have to say.
- Never reveal other people's personal information (or YOUR OWN) on social networks. Alice Hoffman made a huge mistake. She should have NEVER given out the book reviewer's personal information. And we all know that. The same is true for your friends and family also. If someone writes on your Facebook wall asking for a phone number, don't respond on your wall. Send the person a private message. If a writer asks you for contact information for an editor and you aren't comfortable giving that out, then don't. GO WITH YOUR GUT! Personal information has a way of leaking out. As soon as you get the reputation that you cannot be trusted, then it will be hard to change that reputation. You can always contact a person for someone else to avoid giving out e-mail addresses and phone numbers
- PHOTOS--Not much to say on this except it is fun to post crazy photos, sure, but you have to think about who is going to see these!
I think social networking and e-mail are our friends, but we have to respect them and be responsible, just like with our human friends. If not, they can easily turn into foes and cause us a lot of trouble.
photo by KaCey97007 www.flickr.com