After last year’s Edward Snowden revelations and the recent Donald Sterling incident, it’s time for a reminder: Anything you say can and may be held against you. Not just what you say to an arresting officer, but words uttered anywhere, anytime.
Sterling’s comments were certainly wrongheaded. But, like Mitt Romney in 2012, he was not aware that he was being recorded when he said those things. Have you ever said anything to a friend, a relative or a business associate that you would not want shared publicly? I’d guess that most of us have.
In 2014, when many mobile devices are equipped with video and audio recording apps, things you say and do at workplace meetings or private gatherings, even among people you trust, may be archived and shared via a variety of channels. With corporations concerned about keeping proprietary information secret, employee emails are subject to greater scrutiny by management than before.
What can a person do?
- Don’t say ignorant things. Along with conversation, this applies to Twitter and Facebook comments as well as text messages and emails. Think before you post or hit “send.”
- Don’t drink too much. Too many beverages can lead to stupid remarks or actions.
- Don’t make “off the record” remarks. You may not be quoted, but info shared can find its way into print or the airwaves.
- Share controversial opinions about hot-button topics only with close intimates.
- Stay cool. Stressful situations can lead to embarrassing behaviors. YouTube has several “fit of anger” videos. You don’t want to be next.
- If you realize later that something you said or did may have been misconstrued, step up and clarify your meaning.
Let me repeat: I am not defending Donald Sterling. But I am suggesting you act as if you are being monitored. Because in 2014, you never know who’s listening or watching.