27 Jul 10

Just when I thought the Social Media “revolution” was actually revolutionizing the legal industry, we now have more and more people expressing their refusal to adopt due to the “permanence” of posts.

Two different occurrences recently reminded me that I needed to expand thought into this realm.  Occurrence 1: a legal administration group I’m involved in started “cautioning” its members (member to member forum, NOT the organization speaking) on the permanence of social media posts. Occurrence 2: a blog entry by the talented Nancy Myrland called “Should Law Firms Ban Use of Facebook at Work?“  Nancy shows a quick example of how to engage your entire firm in the marketing efforts of the firm by empowering the attorneys and staff to use social media with proper guidelines and examples.  I’ll talk about this idea (which I love) shortly.

For now, let’s focus back to the Permanence issue.  There’s no doubt that things posted online are now being indexed and saved in the archives for eternity, somewhere, by someone, not necessarily the original location you may have posted. For example, if you post “I had a great day at the ALA Conference in Boston” on Twitter, you should realize that Google reads and indexes everything on twitter.  So, what’s wrong with that tweet?  And what’s wrong with saying, “I just read a great blog entry by Nancy Myrland about law firms banning Facebook at work” with a link?  Who cares if it’s permanent?  Am I fearful that perhaps Nancy might someday be accused of something OUTLANDISH and by my “liking” her article therefore I’m associated with her?  That’s absurd.

Is this a control issue that we’re seeing?  I understand law firms, and corporations, feel the desire/need to control everything on the interwebs (cute/funny term for the internet), but what if you’re not saying things you’d be embarrassed to be permanent?  Personally, I think posting your complaints about the permanence of social media on a forum even more embarrassing, but that’s just me perhaps.

Here on my blog, there’s an option to automatically post one entry per week that is a compilation of all your tweets from the prior week.  I’m seriously considering turning on this feature!  It would make finding me and my likes/dislikes all that much easier simply by scrolling through my own blog. Granted, I am part of Gen X and usually find myself more similar to Gen Y (sometimes known as Millennials) in that I run my life completely transparently online and offline.  I WANT people to know and feel who I am, what my beliefs and ideas are.  I want to reach out to the world knowing that sometimes connecting to people online is just as powerful as connecting in person.  BE only one person.

I’ve heard of people creating separate Facebook or Twitter profiles for themselves so they have “one professional profile” and “one personal profile”.  If you can’t say something personal to your professional colleagues, then you likely shouldn’t be posting it online (or even saying it).  The old adage of “What goes around comes around” can certainly catch up with you.  Personally, I’d rather my actual written words catch up to me because I actually wrote them rather than the interpretation through four different people getting to someone from a spoken word.

Do I ever post things that I wish were not permanent?  Sort of.  What I mean by that is that some messages I post, if read SOLELY individually, could be taken as rude or disrespectful on my Twitter or Facebook.  However, I’m not ashamed of who I am.  I don’t post slurs about individuals or direct insults to people.  Sometimes I might call out a public figure or company to DO better in the world, but that’s who I am.  I try to live an example of customer service everyday, inside and outside my firm.  But by no means do I wish them to feel I’m just a “doing” robot.  I don’t just “do” whatever is asked of me, I also think.  I’m a human with emotions, thoughts, opinions, humor and frustration.  People connect to other humans, not to monotonous robots writing more blah emotionless words into opinions they feel they need to believe.

Free yourself from the shrinking world of political correctness and “lack of opinionness“.  Open your heart and mind to the world. Toughen your skin, allow people to judge you, don’t be embarrassed by who you are inside OR outside the office.  If you have something to be embarrassed about you should likely address why your embarrassed by that or why you continue to do it.


Filed under: Blogging,Legal,Social Media,Twitter

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  • nancymyrland

    Richard, thank you very much for mentioning, and linking to, my post. I appreciate that! I love what you've written about this topic. I share your traits of sharing and connecting publicly. It's just who I am too. I don't mind if people know my personality and my thoughts online as that makes a large part of what it means to know and work with me. I am with you in that I'm cautious not to post that which will haunt me later. Thank you for writing this post!

  • Lindsay Griffiths

    Great, great post. But I may just be agreeing with you because I'm Gen X too, and also live my life pretty transparently. All it takes is a little common sense!