F@#K Kelsey Timmerman: A precautionary tale to teen tweeters

“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…


Beth Anne says:

I have unfriended people for repeated posts that are profane and have blocked others because I don’t want to see–nor want my impressionable teen daughter to see–on my news feed HOW drunk they got and how they acted once they did.

I have also unfriended people who do nothing but complain and moan about their lives when most of their misery is self-inflicted. Life is too short to be surrounded by such a waste of time and abilities and capabilities.

Hardest part is heavily censoring my daughter’s birth mother, who falls into that first category far too often. That’s not something I want my girl to see about her mother.

Kelsey says:

We all complain and moan. That’s what spouses are for, not facebook and Twitter. That does sound like a tough situation with your daughter’s birth mother. Good luck navigating that one.

Social media wasn’t around back when I was in a position to hire people, but I certainly would use it to check up on people if I were in that position now. I have chosen not to follow people many many times because their tweets consisted mostly of profanity. This is not because I disapprove of profanity because it’s…well…profane, but because reading it is a waste of my time.

Kelsey says:

I’m glad that you follow me! I guess that means that I don’t curse tweet too much.

Couldn’t agree more with you on this one Kelsey, had this exact converstation with a peer today. He was talking about putting on a workshop for student on what your social media profile says to employers, friends and your family. Through our conversation we came to realize that the issue doesn’t seem to be age specific. We both acknowledgeed that during this political season we’ve unfriended, blocked or deleted posts from people we consider close friends outside of their social media personas. I love you advice about “Tweeting like your grandma and mom are your only two followers.”

Kelsey says:

Bill, I actually have heard of a speaker that travels to universities and does programs like this. Before she goes she searches for tweets from students at that university and then shows them to the audience as examples. I definitely think students to be shown this kind of thing. I hope the fella that tweeted me thinks twice before sending such tweets in the future.

Daisy says:

I often wonder about this from the other end. I try not to use profanity online, and I never use hate speech. But, as a member of the “facebook generation,” social networking is my main method of staying in contact with my geographically variable friends. As such, I’m usually not shy about expressing my social/political/religious/entertainment/whatever opinions there. I don’t, however, want to share these beliefs at a job, for the most part. I worry that it might open me up to workplace/hiring discrimination, as well. I understand that employers see social networking as a sort of character background check, but I can’t help feeling that those for-business programs that break into locked facebook accounts as equivalent to an employer calling all my best friends and asking them personal questions about me. In other words, weird and vaguely immoral. Thoughts?

Kelsey says:

Daisy, I’m all for using social media to interact with your friends, but the “facebook generation” needs to make sure that they are filtering their public posts. Facebook has privacy settings and you can lock your tweets. Post away about last nights party, or your political views, or how Snooki is your hero, and please use as many four letter words as possible, just make sure that your friends are the only ones able to view them.

As for employers who want to view locked/hidden accounts, I would find somewhere else to work. A locked account shows good judgement: you are able to separate the personal from the professional. But if a potential employer can search Google and see photos of you doing a keg stand….don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding work or an internship.

So lock it or use your mom/grandma filter.

Let your voice be heard!