The headline could also read, “You are what you tweet.” If you put something out there on the Internet — it’s out there on the Internet and anyone and everyone can find it and see it. And as far as the world is concerned, it’s who you are.
I bring this up because on one of the Twitter feeds I manage there is a young woman who has interesting, worthwhile tweets. But she also has the usual trivial tweets as most people do. The thing is, she often uses profanity. In fact, she uses it a lot.
I could write a long post about four-letter words and, who knows, maybe one day I will. To be brief, they don’t offend me. Having worked in radio for a while, there is little I haven’t heard. I also use those words myself. Sometimes with frequency.
Still, I often find them annoying, at least in writing. They seem to be wasted words. It’s kind of like, “I get it; you’re upset. Could you please get to the point?”
My real reason for this post, however, is this: when you use those words online, on Twitter and so on, do you ever think about who may see them? There are few people who haven’t heard them and, really, only a small percentage of people who are truly offended by them. I think at worst you would find people like me who find them tiresome and unimaginative.
But there are also people out there who could potentially employ you, or get involved in some way that is beneficial to your career or life generally. Maybe a web designer recommends me to others as a writer. Or maybe I suggest a designer to someone and that designer is you. There are a lot of business people and government people online, especially on Twitter, many of whom have the potential to be of benefit to you – jobs, recommendations, tips and so on.
The thing is, when it comes to this area of human activity — business and related matters — regardless of whether someone is fine with the language or not, there’s a good chance they’ll be a little uneasy with you because when you are working for or with them, to some degree you represent them and their business.
If the person they find in their Twitter stream has a foul mouth, odds are they’ll prefer not to take chances and so avoid you. While you may not need a job or recommendation or anything else right now, one day you will. Increasingly, who you are on the Internet will be the person the world sees you as. Whatever song and dance you do in an interview or in a resume will mean nothing compared to what is in your Twitter stream, on your Facebook pages or on your blog.
If they’re full of profanity, that’s who you will be seen as and, for most people and companies and governments, that’s a no-no because it means bad branding. They’ll avoid you.
How your blogs, Twitter streams, Facebook pages and so on represent you goes beyond potentially naughty photos. It’s all your content, including words. Maybe words more than anything else. Despite images and video and all the other web developments, the Internet is still primarily a text medium.
You probably don’t care about how your friends see you – why should you? They’re your friends, they know who you are. The problem is, your friends aren’t the only people who see you online. Everyone else can too and all they have to go by is what they see and read.
So … who are you online?