While Tweeting and posting on Facebook may be fun, a release and cathartic, it's not for everyone. Sure it can be fun and entertaining and a great way to network and be in touch with friends, family and others. After all, this is a free country and we do have First Amendment rights, right? Stories abound including the poor teacher here in Northern New Jersey who said what she thought and got it off her chest and also lost her job. The problem today is that all this stuff is easily retrievable on the internet and freely available to prospective employers too. Causing permanent harm to yourself is all too easy.
What truly amazes me, or maybe amuses me, is the proclivity of licensed and regulated professionals to spill their guts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere not considering what the ultimate consequences may be. I have been exposed to just too many cases of carelessness or stupidity through client consultations, research and simply following current events. How about the attorney who needed an adjournment due to claimed illness, yet his Facebook postings showed that he did a bit too much partying. Adjournment denied and referral to the the ethics committee for possible discipline regarding lying to the court. How about the OB/GYN so frustrated with the noncompliant patient that she blasted all over Facebook. Likely consequences with the privilege folks at the hospital and certainly a risk of problems with a licensing board. Lawyers trashing their adversaries on Facebook and lawyers and clients letting their hair down on Facebook. I must admit frustration a while ago with a client hassling me on a weekend and I typed out a related Tweet but never sent it.Exercised good professional judgement,cooled down and made the better choice.
Now don't get me wrong, there are good and proper ways to use the social media. A lawyer posing an interesting legal question to his colleagues, a law firm looking for some shadow jury help by asking outsiders to give their opinions on a case to be eventually presented to a jury. Maybe the rub is to separate personal from professional. Codes of ethics and conduct apply to all licensed professionals and some behavior is just not becoming and should not be expressed publicly. The problem is that just too much is open to public scrutiny when you put it out on the internet. It is nice for patients or clients to see a little of the personal side and that we too put our pants on the same way in the morning. However, social media cannot be therapeutic for licensed professionals. Rant and kvetch to your spouse or close friend but don't put it out there and make yourself an unnecessary target. Venting and complaining in cyberspace is just like picking your nose in the car, somebody is probably watching!