“F@#k Kelsey Timmerman! I’ve got better things to do than go to his event!”
This was a tweet I read before a speaking event at a university this year.
“Sorry to hear that,” I responded. “Do you have some shows you’ll be missing tonight?” Basically I was saying, “I see you.”
Right before I was about to start speaking, a student stepped back stage.
“Mr. Timmerman,” the student said, looking remarkably like a puppy with his tail between his legs, “I’m sorry for that tweet. I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just that I never knew about this event and had other plans that I was disappointed to cancel.”
I accepted his apology. I told him that our in person actions are worth more than 10,000 tweets and I was impressed that he came backstage to apologize. But he needs to be more careful in the future. People can actually read your tweets!
The student didn’t use @kelseytimmerman, which would’ve meant he was speaking at me as opposed to about me. But anytime someone tweets “Kelsey Timmerman” or “Where Am I Wearing?” it shows up on my Tweetdeck window. Typically, I just ignore these tweets. Sometimes I’ll click through to read some of their past tweets, and the witlessness, ridiculousness, racism, sexism, grammar, and just plain stupidity of their other tweets make the negative comment seem like a badge of honor.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve read “F@#K Kelsey Timmerman” before or after an event. I’m sure it won’t be the last. At times I’m a public figure, and I’ve gotten used to all sorts of things being said about me — both good and bad. I can take it, but I worry about students who put this persona forward through their social media outlets. I worry about them getting into college, getting a job, and, in general, being viewed as a bit of an a-hole by their online acquaintances.
A few years ago we were looking for a babysitter. We interviewed several and then I Googled our favorite and found her Twitter account. Her first tweet was about how drunk she was last night and laced with profanity. “She’s in college,” I thought. “That’s not a deal breaker.” And then I scrolled down some more. 75% of her tweets were drunk tweets or hangover tweets. There was even one about how many dudes she woke up to find in her bed one morning! She was most definitely not hired.
Here are two quick rules of thumb to tweeting responsibly:
1) Don’t tweet negative things about someone unless you are prepared to enter a dialogue with that person. If you would be ashamed or embarrassed by them reading it, don’t post it.
2) Tweet like your grandma and mom are your only two followers.
Have you ever decided not to interact with or hire someone because of their lack of social media tact? Do tell…