from my friend's facebook page

Regarding Posting Personal Topics Publicly

Can I be honest with you guys?  I’ve had a history of being a terrible human being.  No seriously, this isn’t about making a pity party, this is me just flatly laying out the truth.  I’ve been a hypocrite and have been closed-minded and unaccepting and unforgiving.  I’ve done really bad things in my personal life, in all seriousness, and only in recent years have I really made strides in moving forward and being a better human being than I was in my past. 

                I bring this up to also say that in my past I wrote some really ugly and nasty things in some very public places once.  I suppose I sort of had this mentality that I could just say whatever I wanted and it didn’t really matter.  Or maybe that nobody would even care to read what I had to say, or that people who it would affect wouldn’t even go looking for it or find it.  All of those things ended up being incorrect.  It wasn’t just that over the years my name was becoming notable.  It was that I was touching lives as time went on, as everyone does, and so people come looking for more things from you.  This included family members and people I considered friends.  And I hurt an awful lot of people when they ended up finding things that I’d said.  So as time went on, that was something I learned to quit doing.  I’m not always perfect at it, but especially as I learn to balance a very public life with a personal life, I’ve learned what I can and can’t openly say to an infinite audience. 

                I think that this is a lesson that a lot of people could stand to learn, hopefully in a way unlike my own, without having to go through it all yourself, although I know that oftentimes people don’t learn something until they’ve screwed up themselves.  For starters, in general just not being a complete jackass is a good place to start.  I mean, immediately, that’s gonna reduce the general jackass statements you’re likely to write out on the Internet in the first place.  I’ve had to do a whole heck of a lot of learning and growing, and I know I’m not done yet.  But I’m getting there, and a lot of nonsense in my life has already been eliminated. 

                After that, it’s time to start double-thinking about the things you’re feeling burning up inside you, the stuff you’d LOVE to publicly post on the Internet.  This includes vague, passive-aggressive nonsense.  I mean, really, think about it.  Think something along the lines of, “If somebody read this or they figured out I was intending this to be about them or directed at them, how would that make them feel?  Is this something I really want them to know?  Is this really how I want to address this topic with this individual?”  If the answers to any of these questions seem unsatisfactory, you probably shouldn’t go writing about it publicly on the Internet. 

                To address another issue with posting personal issues online, then comes the part where somebody actually does in fact find it and read it.  I recently had someone address me with some really insulting and ignorant things I’d once written.  The best way to handle it is by acknowledging it and being honest about it.  I couldn’t run or hide from the things I said.  I had to own up to the terrible things I’d done.  That’s handling it maturely.  In some cases, your initial reaction might be to try to delete the things you’ve said.  If they’re truly bad or wrong, that’s not necessarily the incorrect approach.  But to try to pretend you didn’t do it, or to attack the person who found what you said, isn’t going to solve the problem.  It’s not going to make anybody forget you said what you said, and it might just make things worse.  I’d once addressed some really volatile things that an acquaintance wrote online, and rather than owning up to the things she said and did, she deleted what she’d written and then tried to shame me for “snooping”, when what she had written was perfectly open and public on the Internet.  She gave me backhanded apologies, and then wrote in OTHER public places things that indicated there was nothing apologetic about her at all.  This isn’t going to make you look good by any stretch of the imagination.  Instead, it makes it painfully obvious that all you’re concerned with is the fact that you got caught behaving badly.

                I often see people who say that their blogs or Twitter accounts or whatever are representative of their own thoughts and don’t represent the thoughts and opinions of their organizations that their associated with or their families, etc.  That’s nonsense.  Depending on your position, what you’re saying, where you’re saying it, and how you’re saying it, you ABSOLUTELY represent your organization.  You can’t expect to hold a high position in a company, then speak openly and backhandedly about your customers or other businesses that you do business with, then complain loudly when people come to you complaining about things you’ve said and done.  To attack your customers or audience, then insult them when they dared to address you about the nasty things you’ve said, will win you no points.  You might be able to get away with it for a while depending on the severity of what was said or done or how long it’s been going on, but you can’t ride it out forever.  The Internet remembers, and they make a point of remembering and bringing up the worst things about you right when you really need it the least.  The Internet is a rather unforgiving place.  I’ve learned that from personal experience.

                What CAN you do instead?  Try choosing to say nothing at all.  If you have something to say, keep those things private.  A private blog or Twitter account might be a good start.  Maybe try, I’unno, going old school and writing in a physical journal with bound paper between two covers written in lead or ink.  In my case, sometimes there are things I’m really stressing about, and I really want to be heard by somebody, maybe to get their opinion on the topic.  This is part of the reason why I have a Facebook fan page that is separate from my personal Facebook page.  I only accept friend requests from people I’ve spent any amount of time talking to or working with, for one thing.  Certain things I choose to leave public, and other things I choose to keep friends only.  And even then, if I’m really upset or bothered by something, I actively use Facebook’s locking systems to choose who I share things with, and I change that up based on the topic I want to go on about.  I share things only with certain audiences, and often only with people I trust.  This is LARGELY different from how I used to write online. 

                Having said all this, I’m still not perfect, and I may never be.  After all, who IS perfect?  But at least we can move toward behaving better and showing the best parts of ourselves without hurting one another.

                Unless you’re just an awful person who doesn’t care who you hurt.  Then, by all means, ignore me per usual.