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15 May 2015

The Scene: Our Lives Are More Public Than Ever

It’s 2015, and life is a lot different than, say, 2000, or 1995, or any year prior to 2005.

That’s because our lives are now more public than ever, thanks in large part to the Internet and easier access to information. 

I’m not so sure that’s always a good thing.

We now publish things online – in public – that we used to say in friendly circles. There are many tales of people getting fired for what they post online, but there are also tales of people being fired for what they say in other public spaces.

Cameras are now everywhere, and our media landscape is wider than ever before.

Recently, a man in Toronto was rightly fired for harassing a female news reporter with a vulgar saying while she was interviewing somebody else. The reporter kept the camera running and confronted the man. The man proceeded to make himself look worse than he already had, which at first seemed impossible but here we are.

(What the man said is so vulgar that I’m not even going to link to it. If you want to look it up, put your headphones on.)

The video went viral and the man was fired by his employer.

But what he said had nothing to do with his job!

That’s what this man’s apologists would say. It doesn’t matter. That guy – or someone like him – could be identified, his Facebook or LinkedIn profile could be found, and – voilà! – his employer’s name could be dragged into this mess. This wasn't the case just ten years ago.

His employer took the right course of action.

Marketing and public relations professionals are trained to act like a decent human being in public. Spokane isn’t a large community in the grand scheme of things. What we say to friends and acquaintances might sound good to us, but it could rub others the wrong way.

Email chains can get people into trouble. Ever been forwarded an email and read something that probably wasn’t meant for your eyes? I have. 

I’m not sure that our culture believes too differently than it did 20 years ago. The difference is there are more outlets for people to share their thoughts and beliefs. 

There are consequences for all of this. You could lose a job, a future client or any other opportunity.

So think before you speak, post, write, tweet, text, direct message, email, blog, record, or otherwise spout off in public. 

You’re all too good to cost yourself any type of advancement. 

By Kevin Dudley, Spokane MarCom President