Holiday Tips to Protect Your Online Reputation

As we close out the year, many of us will attend office-sponsored holiday parties and fun gatherings with friends and neighbors. Risks for online problems have never been greater as 2018 was marked by a rise in people losing their jobs due to negative social media posts and all manners of online reputation problems.

A few key tips for holiday party season:

More cameras than ever

Each year, it becomes easier for holiday party misdeeds to be captured digitally. The global digital surveillance market is projected to grow by more than 9% per year, and this year Amazon bought video doorbell company Ring for a purported $1 billion. More cameras are coming.  According to Pew Research Center, more than three quarters (77%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. That means that three out of four folks at your party have a camera – and many are not afraid to use it. So when you are thinking about having that extra glass of wine,imagine that nearly every adult can take your photo in an instant. Be on your best behavior.  And when you are at a gathering with coworkers, don’t complain – about anything.  If you are not having fun, power through it and leave early.  Don’t over-imbibe,over-stay or over-talk because bad behavior can be memorialized online. Have a good time but as I tell my college-aged daughter: “Don’t do shots.”

Speaking of politics: Don’t do it

I have this theory that our current political landscape has turned into reality TV, and the White House, Fox, CNN and all of us are complicit.  You will not hear about this from me at a holiday party. 

Discussions about politics today are an impassable minefield. Don’t talk about it at a holiday event, and avoid folks who will try to draw you in.  If you mix heavily opinionated talk with too much spiked eggnog, you open yourself up to contentious conversations which won’t help you at the office or with your neighbors. And you don’t want any of it to find its way online.

#MeToo far too complicated for a holiday gathering

Last year, I warned that the office holiday party is, more than ever, not the time to “hook up.” That’s still true. This is not the time to make your move, and always keep your hands to yourself. In the past 15 months, we have seen hundreds of high-profile cases of sexual harassment: from Harvey Weinstein to Les Moonves and many, many others. (This list from the New York Times shows the breadth of it: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/23/us/metoo-replacements.html).  Society is on heightened alert about sexual harassment, and a holiday party’s mix of booze and collegiality can make for a bad concoction.

In addition, discussing the #MeToo Movement is perilous.  The so-called pendulum of public opinion continues to swing on this issue, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of it.  Avoid the topic.

Personal online posts and opinions can impact your business life

I have spoken many times about how online missteps can cost you a job, and I detailed plenty of examples in my book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online (A great holiday gift.) Just last week, the Green Bay Packers fired associate head coach Winston Moss after he tweeted that star quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be held more accountable. Moss had been with the team for 13 years and while his salary isn’t published, you can bet he had a very respectable six figure annual income. 

And even if Rodgers should be held more accountable (He makes $22 million a year and the team is on a three-game losing streak, so you be the judge.), airing your personal opinions on social media about a privately held, though very public, business can get you fired.

I wish everyone a happy and fun holiday party season. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and once again: Don’t do shots.

–John

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