social mediaLast night I experienced just another example that when trust is at risk, everything is at risk.

I was watching QandA on ABC last night and one of the tweets that scroll through at the bottom of the screen read
“you are only one tweet away from ruining your life”,
which was first tweeted by comedian Rhys Muldoon. That’s pretty heavy, but in the case of former SBS employee Scott McIntyre, his tweets on ANZAC day certainly appear to have had a significantly negative impact on his life because they cost him his job.

What’s that got to do with trust you might ask? Remember, trust is about self-trust, trust in others and others trusting in you. McIntyre had breached the trust placed in him by his employer to operate within the terms of his employment.

I’m wondering what McIntyre’s intention was? And I’m also wondering whether he thought through how his tweets would impact other people? And I’m wondering whether he’d even thought through what impact his tweet might have on his employer.

Sure, it’s a free country where we thankfully celebrate freedom of speech… but that doesn’t mean you oughtn’t be accountable for the impact that your choice to speak freely or tweet freely in this case, will have on others.

I don’t know McIntyre and I’m not judging him… I’m questioning his intention, and I’m intrigued by what his decision making process was before he sent the tweets out into the world?

McIntyre is certainly not alone in offending through some not-thought-through-tweets… and certainly not alone in having his life negatively impacted through some connection with social media.

While the benefits of social media are many, especially in the speed of communication and the access to information that is now made available, the dark side of social media, or at least, the dark side of how some people choose to use social media is at the very least concerning, and certainly dangerous on a number of humanity levels.

Warren Buffet, arguably one of the world’s most successful investors, has been quoted as saying “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Five minutes… how about 140 characters.

What gets me about this is that it’s not even an example of ignorance about the light of day test, which is to ask the question “with this decision or action I’m considering, would I make the decision or take the action if it were held up in the light of day for all to see?” With twitter, and the various other social media platforms, including blog posts like the one you’re reading now, the whole point of them, is to put your thoughts, ideas, philosophy, opinion, out into the world for all to see.

So what’s really going on here is a failure to consider others – it’s a lack of social intelligence… or maybe just a narcissistic ‘I don’t care what others think’ attitude to life.

In the world of social media where face-to-face conversations are taking a back seat more and more… and the art of meaningful conversation and dialogue is being placed under threat. It seems to me that the 140 characters of a tweet are increasingly having the potential to make or break a relationships… and the real problem is, the millisecond of time it takes to hit the send button, without being clear on your intention, and the impact of your intention on yourself and on others, is putting trust at risk, and when trust is at risk… everything is at risk.


PS… don’t forget, I always welcome your feedback and if you’d like to have me present at your next conference on how to build more intentional trust in your life, or would like to explore how we can work together to boost your team’s success, call me at my Sydney office on 02 9546 2492.