I’d like to think that as a 27-year-old, I’ve got things pretty much down patt.
I’m pretty independent.
I’m pretty self-sufficient.
And I’d like to think I’m pretty mature.
Yet it seems there’s no age at which a little bit of Mum (or Dad!) advice comes in handy!
Following a phone call to dear Mumsie yesterday, I received not only advice, but a slight telling off as well!
You see, I swear too much.
Now, for those who know me, I’m not exactly an uber-potty mouth. I’m ultra-professional at work and love whipping out the kinds of words that one usually stores away for use during really competitive games of Scrabble. But with mates, I’m relaxed and tend not to watch my mouth.
I could blame my ‘Aussie-ness’ as we do have a tendency to replace adverbs with alternative ‘naughty’ words.
E.g. “Goodness gracious, it seems rather hot today, doesn’t it Jeeves?” = “Crickey, isn’t it farking hot today bouncer?”
But as my Mother pointed out, blaming my Australian-ness is ‘pure laziness’.
My brothers and I were brought up never to swear. I remember hearing Mum say ‘shit’ for the first time. It was such a shock! But on reflection, I suppose you’re permitted to swear when your car freakishly runs out of petrol in the middle of a railway crossing.
In our household:
‘Fart’ = ‘Fluff’
‘God’ = ‘Goodness me’ (Jesus was just a no-no)
‘Crap’, ‘Shit’ and ‘Dick’ were punishable by a 30-minute lecture on speaking well and having pride in one’s manner.
And anything else like the F-word and the C-word (which I will always find unnecessary) were strictly out-of-bounds and punishable by death.
What I appreciated most about the phone call yesterday however, is that my ‘telling-off’ soon spurned an even deeper and more reflective topic - the idea of public perception or our ‘public profile’.
It may be permissible (and a bit of a laugh) for me to swear from time-to-time in the company of friends or in times of great distress, like if I stub my toe or in the event I’m ever chased by a really angry rhino. But what happens if one day my idle mouth let’s slip a ‘shit’ (or worse!) during a conversation with my boss at work?
Public perception, in cases where we must be presented professionally – or hope to be presented professionally, at least – is incredibly important.
I hope, one day, to become a journalist and so anything I write now must reflect the kind of writer I’d like to be. I should watch my language when I post on this very blog because, thanks to the internet, it has the potential to be very public.
And public image can also extend to our social networks, like Facebook.
There have been quite a few cases of Facebook getting people in trouble. Think back to the story of the admin assistant who was fired after her boss – through internet searches – found out she thought work was boring. Status updates like ‘all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!! omg!‘ don’t bode well with current and would-be employers. Then there was the recent story of the worker who was done for ‘gross misconduct’ after posting a 30-second video of his supervisor sleeping on the job. Needless to say the supervisor was also fired.
But it’s not just status updates that are cause for concern.
How many photos are you tagged in that a) you wouldn’t show your mum and b) you wouldn’t want anyone but your friends seeing?
In 2006, Stacey Snyder – then a 25-yr-old student teacher – was denied her degree when photos of her with the caption ‘drunk pirate’ on her MySpace page were found by administrators at her university. The issue was reported to her dean, who condemned her conduct as ‘unprofessional’ with concern that her photos were promoting drinking to her under-age students. Snyder took the university to court – and lost.
In June this year, Forbes published a story about the Federal Trade Commission in the US which “gave a stamp of approval to a background check company that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and postings.” The company, Social Intelligence Corp, stated that it will keep records for up to 7 years, provided the are not disputed. On its website, it claims:
Social Intelligence Corp solely generates reports based on employer pre-defined criteria, both positive and negative. Negative examples include racist remarks or activities, sexually explicit photos or videos, and illegal activity such as drug use. Positive examples include charitable or volunteer efforts, participation in industry blogs, and external recognition.
Evidently the company searches for more than just drunken nights out, but how many of us post or are tagged in pictures that would show-off our ‘positive’ contributions to society? Sure, you could argue that drinking in a pub is creating employment and supporting your local but – as Stacey Snyder found out – some people may not agree.
I certainly don’t want future employers to assume I’m like my Facebook profile photo. Okay, so at the moment it’s Postman Pat in a burning Royal ‘Fail’ truck but it would be just my luck that my potential employer has a soft spot for cats, or is a recovering pyromaniac.
More importantly, I wouldn’t like potential employers to see any posts featuring less-than-desirable language and assume that this is how I always write. I want my blog to reflect all my hard work during my degree and for it to show my true potential.
Much to Mum’s delight I’m sure, I’ve decided to go through my blog posts and amend any, shall we say, broken language. And as for Facebook pics? It may be worthwhile double checking my privacy settings. Or punching my friend in the face next time she whips out her camera on a night out.
Pass the soap and detag pronto! I’m permanently amending my public profile!