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The downside of social media

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Social media is an amazing thing except when it isn’t. It’s a great way to share information about your business, start relationships, and expand your network. I remarked to the current Dean of my old law school that despite the terrible employment situation of newly admitted attorneys, I would have loved the opportunity to be a law student now since I could build a practice and a network that I couldn’t do 18 years ago.

There are certainly downsides to social media and I’ve been a part of it here and there, but I’ve learned to avoid getting into any type of disagreement with someone online. The difference between conversations with people and any post or email is that communication that isn’t verbal doesn’t have a tone. When you speak with someone, you know when they’re yelling at you, when they’re sarcastic, or when they’re downright hostile. Emails don’t have that luxury because it doesn’t have the tone so you may post something online that you think is calm and someone thinks that you’re trying to attack them. So when someone reads a post f yours that maybe different from their view, there are some people who may think it’s an attack when it’s not,

A few weeks back, I had a conversation online on Facebook about some allegations against Donald Trump. While I didn’t support Mr. Trump, I thought one of these accusations made against him through some sort of lawsuit was false because the mainstream media didn’t want to touch it and there were no substantiated claims other than the filing of a lawsuit. The plaintiff couldn’t produce herself for interviews and no one including Hillary Clinton wanted to touch the case with a ten foot pole. Them the lawsuit was drop amid allegations that threats were made, so I thought the lawsuit was without merit. So I get attacked by another attorney who claims to be a litigator and he said that I don’t know anything about the law and I don’t know anything about Federal Civil Procedure because no attorney would risk sanctions by bringing a frivolous case like that into Federal Court. I know he was an attorney because he put ESQ. in his profile name, he assumed that I wasn’t because I didn’t (more on that). So he was asking me whether I was admitted to Federal Court (I’m not) and I just don’t told him that it didn’t matter because in his mind, I wasn’t a lawyer. I then said that one should never assume someone is not a lawyer and that I have enough appreciation for the Ethical Rules not to disparage someone who might be an attorney about their lack of legal knowledge. I also cited that while it’s proper to address another attorney as ESQ., it is a faux pas for an attorney to use ESQ. for himself. Let’s just say, I made my point and didn’t hear from him again.

I’ve really stayed clear of most of the community groups in my area on Facebook. I’m still there looking, but I don’t post because you’re dealing with a lot of people who have a difficult time of dealing with people that have a different opinion that they have.

Your reputation in business is probably the most important thing you have and you don’t need something like a LinkedIn or Facebook fight to sully it. I’ve seen too many careers destroyed because someone said something that they shouldn’t have. Look at someone like Al Campanis. Al Campanis was a friend of the great Jackie Robinson and he’ll be remembered for making some unfortunate comments on why there wasn’t enough African-American managers in Major League Baseball on Nightline. He lost his job and his reputation, 20 years as Dodgers general manager with 4 pennants and a World Series title didn’t mean anything when he lost his job. Let’s not forget about Anthony Weiner, who may go to his prison for social media after losing his job, reputation, and wife.

There is nothing wrong with conversing with people on social media, just don’t lose your cool. if they lose their cool, don’t roll in the gutter with them. Take the higher road because your reputation is certainly more important than anyone who takes different opinions as some sort of personal vendetta they need to carry.

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