22 Jun How Loose Lips can Sink Your Ship
We’ve all had those days at work that break down the spirit, spark the temper, and beg to be complained about. The natural urge is to find someone with whom to vent. Maybe a co-worker who can identify with your struggles, perhaps a friend or family member who can act as an impartial witness. When the urge to vent is there, it doesn’t really matter who you find to voice your emotions to, you will probably feel less stressed. However, a large problem that faces many in the midst of litigation is that if you choose to share your frustrations online, you could be hurting yourself and exposing yourself to legal complications.
“Loose Lips Sink Ships” in the Digital Age
Venting is often a necessary part of processing stress for a lot of people and is not in and of itself a bad thing. But you always have to be careful who you vent to, and how they will receive your frustrations. Venting to your best friend about a bad day at work over the phone? Probably harmless, maybe even helpful. Venting to a colleague over an online chat service? Probably not the best idea. In the digital age, you have to be more careful than ever who you vent to, how you vent, and how voicing your concerns is perceived by others.
How come? It all comes down to shareability, accountability, and the vast reach all of our actions in the digital era. If you send a text to a co-worker telling them all of the things you hate about your boss after a particularly bad day in the office, there is nothing stopping that co-worker from copying your text and forwarding it to your boss. If you vent all of your anger to an acquaintance via email, there is nothing stopping them from screenshotting your rant and posting it online.
Even if you trust someone entirely today, there aren’t any guarantees about your relationships in the future, and any text or email you send will likely be retained for an extended period of time. All of which adds up to a simple but profound reality: now, more than ever before, you have to be careful who you vent to and who you trust with your frustrations, and you have to be careful how you share them.
Venting on Social Media: a Recipe for Disaster
When you vent to unload stress, you should always be concerned with who you are venting to, how they will receive the information, and what potential consequences you might face by unloading your emotions. But on social media, it’s impossible to consider all of these things. That’s because, on social media, you have little or no control over who sees your posts.
Posting a Facebook status about how you had the worst day ever because of your boss’s incompetence seems harmless enough. Until one of your Facebook friends, who happens to be friends with your boss, likes and comments on your status, potentially making it visible to your supervisors. Even if your boss never sees your anger filled status directly, word passes quickly, and all it takes is one screenshot of your venting sent your boss’s way to make you quickly regret ever sharing your anger online.
Twitter, Instagram, and every other social network pose a similar danger. You never know who will see what you post, or how they will receive it. And if you gain a reputation for venting about your company, and then decide to apply for another job, anyone in your networks who has seen your rants may pass on the information that you have a habit of bad talking your employers.
The Less You Vent Online, the Better
There is nothing wrong with using social media to talk about work, talk with your friends about your day, or talk about anything in general. You just have to remember that when it comes to social media and the internet, who sees your words and how they react to them are totally out of your control. Which is why, when it comes to venting online about work, the less you share, the better. You never know who will see your venting, or what consequences might come from your actions.
Aside from all of the personal and career consequences you can face from venting online, like getting reprimanded by management or missing a hiring opportunity, there are legal ramifications of online venting as well. Online, your words live forever, and there is a growing trend of companies filing lawsuits against individuals who defame them online. Especially if you are sharing privileged or classified information, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble. How social media and the internet interact with free speech, slander, and libel is an evolving field of the law. But if you want to be safe, don’t vent about work online. Plain and simple.