We’ve talked previously about how what you post on social networks can adversely affect your professional life. However, after reading the story that broke in early October about a Power Point presentation emailed out “to a few friends” by a Duke University student detailing and rating her sexual encounters, it’s apparent not everyone got the message.
If you didn’t hear about it, Duke University grad Karen Owen summarized 13 sexual partners she had during her time in school in a 42 slide Power Point presentation (designed to look like a senior thesis), providing names, photos, details, and individual ratings of each partner and encounter. Unfortunately, Ms. Owen then emailed her “F— List” to a few friends, one of whom (not surprisingly) forwarded it and (not surprisingly) it ultimately landed on the website deadspin.com. Within hours, Owen’s list was all over the Internet and she was known the world over for all the wrong reasons.
Obviously Ms. Owen never meant her list to go public. However, the second she hit SEND, she lost control over who saw her “thesis,” and her private little list became a public embarrassment.
Beyond the fact that she did make a list and did bother sharing with even a few friends, think about where Ms Owen stands professionally today. No one has said if or where she’s employed but, assuming she doesn’t have a job, who would hire her now? What about five years from now? While the furor will certainly blow over, a Google search of “Karen Owen, Duke University” will forever bring up her list and her notoriety.
Now think about what you send via email, Twitter, what you post on Facebook, and even the texts you send and voice mails you leave (Brett Favre, I’m talking about you!). Remember that no matter what you’re sending and no matter who you’re sending it to, in a the digital age, everything you email, post, tweet, text, or record should be considered public and potentially permanent once you hit SEND. Is that off-color joke, risque pic, or even that funny list worth putting your career at stake?
© Ph Communications, 2010