Every time I read or hear a report of a prominent person’s life complicated by something they tweeted, posted or recorded a decade earlier, I hope the stories are a cautionary tale for anyone desiring to be a media communicator or public figure.
We used to be able to put our foolish, youthful or unwise days behind us.
But no longer.
The world in which we live is one where everything you write is forever saved on the internet. It is indexed and searchable for as long as we all shall live—and beyond.
Stories of people being terminated from their jobs for attempts at humor or expressions of anger in social media are common.
Restaurant servers using social-media posts to poke fun at a customer and subsequently fired. Then sued by the customer.
Employees criticizing their employer and terminated immediately. (As in “walked to their car by a security guard.”)
Prospective employees losing an opportunity for a job because they posted pictures of themselves in unprofessional poses on their personal Facebook sites.
Teachers poking fun at one or more students online and fired.
Inappropriate sexual comments.
Criticism of someone’s appearance.
And church pastors are not immune.
I am sure more than a few Christians weren’t hired for certain positions when their opinions, though completely true to God’s Word, made an employer uncomfortable enough to avoid hiring them. (If this happens, I have to think they weren’t the right fit for the Christ-follower anyway.)
Everything you write and create sticks to you like a metaphorical fly to an actual No-Pest Strip.
And it is the book that becomes words chiseled in stone for all to see … forever.
Beginning when words in a book were digitized and uploaded or scanned into whatever search engine used at the time, the words you write have become eternal words, not because they are so important or accurate but because the internet made them eternal, for better or for worse.
And then we add to this situation the current hypersensitivity of the world’s culture where seemingly everyone is offended at something, which up until a few years ago was laughed off or allowed to pass without comment.
Now, words seemingly always cause hurt and many respond by picking up sticks and stones to hurl back.
The issue is one of the many reasons why I caution people for expressing opinions in social media that are not part of their author platform.
Not only will an opinion expressed or joke told offend some of your followers; but the comments will also follow you forever, poisoning the well for years and costing you potential audience members for your words.
Christian authors should always stand up for what their faith says is right, knowing you might offend a number of people. (They killed Jesus you know.)
But authors are performers, media performers. No one has to buy your book. You should do everything to draw as many people to your next performance (new book) as possible.
If you write about healing relationships, growing in one’s faith or even the need to come into a relationship with Christ, why jeopardize your credibility and potential for impact by going off-topic in your author platform and shrinking your audience?
Delete hurtful comments made by others from your social media. Unfollow someone who could damage your profile. Be careful of your online impression as much as you might take care of your in-person impression.
Right or wrong, everything you write is now eternal (humanly speaking of course). The very technology that allows an author to sit in a comfortable chair with a laptop and communicate with millions of readers also tracks and maintains a record of every word you write, every recorded word you speak and every opinion you express for all to see, hear and remember.
Don’t waste words.
Instead, make them to be eternally worthwhile.