Feature: Don’t Be a Cyber-Idiot

Feature: Don’t Be a Cyber-Idiot

Feature: Don’t Be a Cyber-Idiot

Perhaps you’ve seen the tape of the incident as it was endlessly replayed on news and sports shows last week. It showed a young man sitting dazed on top of a net over the home plate crowd at Yankee Stadium after he had jumped off the upper deck during a ball game. It seems he wanted to impress his friends and maybe land on an ESPN highlight reel. What he got instead was a court date and a new moniker. Courtesy of The New York Post, he’s now known as “the village idiot.” He wasn’t smart enough to think about the consequences of his actions.

While most of us would shake our heads at such public stupidity, there are some among us who are guilty of acting the same way, at least on the Internet. What do I mean?

  • They trash their previous and even their current employers on blogs and discussion forums;
  • They trade in malicious gossip with e-mails about their former or current co-workers and bosses; and
  • They exercise their right to express their opinions by venting their spleen in crude and defamatory language.
  • And when they engage in such behavior, they are ignoring its consequences. They are acting like “cyber-idiots.”

    The village idiot was dumb on two counts: he could have hurt himself with his ignorant behavior and, perhaps worse, he could have hurt others if that net had ripped and sent him flying into the crowd beneath it. The same can be said for cyber-idiots.

    First, their comments can and do hurt others. They can undermine the credibility of their employers and undercut the reputations of their co-workers. Regardless of the accuracy of the idiot’s comments or their “right” to make them, posting them in a public forum where rebuttal is difficult or impossible can have only one purpose: to harm the other party. And, in most cases, that’s exactly what happens.

    Second, their comments can and do hurt them. A recent column in USA Today cited several examples of workers who were fired by their employers for making inaccurate or inappropriate comments about the organization in their own personal blogs. Did they have the right to make such comments? Absolutely. Was it smart to do so? Absolutely not. The commentary a person posts online-in e-mail and on discussion forums as well as in their own blog-will be part of the public profile they build for themselves, and that profile will be used to evaluate them for employment today and, thanks to the limitless memory of the Web, for the rest of their career.

    Ignoring the consequences of one’s actions simply isn’t rational. It can’t even be described as prudent risking. It doesn’t involve weighing the possible benefits of an action against its potentially negative outcomes. Instead, when village and cyber-idiots commit their acts, they focus exclusively on what they perceive to be the positive results they will achieve. And, the tragedy is that those results are all but insignificant when measured against the long term negative impact they are guaranteed to have.

  • The village idiot is likely to spend a year in jail and have a lifelong criminal record for his 15 minutes of fame; and
  • Cyber-idiots may feel momentarily vindicated or superior while expressing their views in an e-mail message or on their blog, but the harm to their own reputation will likely last as long as they are in the workforce.
  • Back in the ancient past before the Web, we were urged not to “burn our bridges behind us” when dealing with employers and co-workers. The rationale, of course, was that circumstances change: And that has never been more true than in the rapidly shifting environment of the contemporary world of work. For example:

  • The boss and co-workers we had in one organization can easily show up in the one to which we’ve moved;
  • The organization that previously employed us can acquire the organization that employs us now;
  • The opportunity we thought we had at our new employer can disappear or never appear at all and make the opportunity at our former employer suddenly look much better; and
  • The boss and co-workers we had in our previous employer might (a) live next door to, (b) have been graduated from the same college as, or (c) be somehow related to our current boss and co-workers.
  • The Internet has short circuited the six degrees of separation that used to buffer what we said and diminish its impact. In today’s hyper-connected world, acting like a cyber-idiot can and almost certainly will come back to haunt you. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t do so. The second reason is something your mother taught you; it’s called the Golden Rule-the key to success (in work as well as life) is to treat others as you would like them to treat you.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Economic Policy Institute reported that the U.S. is now experiencing greater growth in jobs that traditionally offer higher rather than lower pay, including those in technology, health services and construction. This shift is important because the average inflation-adjusted wage in May of this year was $16.03 an hour, 10 cents an hour less than what the average worker made in January. In fact, according to some economists, the stagnation in wages has now lasted a generation. So, while this positive movement is a good sign, workers must take their own steps if they are to regain, let alone improve on, the purchasing power and standard of living they enjoyed in the last century. What should you do? The Institute’s finding are very clear: you have to work for employers in a growing industry (not one that is fighting extinction) and you have to have up-to-date skills and expertise in a field that is critical to the employer’s success in that industry.

    ExecuNet, the executive job search and recruiting network, released the results of a survey of currently employed executives. It found that over half of the respondents are not satisfied with their current job, and of those who are not satisfied, 68% plan to change jobs in the next six months. What does this mean for you? If you’re a senior manager or executive who is currently in transition, expect a whole lot more compensation in the job market in the next six months. What should you do? Network like crazy to find out who’s leaving (or planning to leave) their jobs; when they do, they create an employment opportunity for you and they won’t compete with you to get it.

    FootieJobs.com launched in the United Kingdom as a new job board dedicated to careers in the football–that would be soccer to you American blokes–industry. It is yet another entry in the growing list of … well, let’s just call it the odd British habit of creating intriguing job board names. It joins such renowned predecessors as SecsintheCity.com, a regional job board for secretaries, and JobsWithBalls.com, a job board serving the recreational sports industry.

    Hudson Highland Group, Inc. announced the results of a survey of views about compensation among U.S. workers. It found that, while 66% of the respondents were satisfied with their pay and benefits-who do they work for?-most also felt that their employer’s compensation program was poorly managed. An astonishing 33% said they rarely or never receive a formal performance review, and 60% said that tenure on-the-job-not performance-determines one’s level of compensation. And there’s more, 31% reported that their employer has no consistent standard or process for determining compensation, and fewer than half (49%) feel that they are paid on a par with their peers. What should you do to make sure you’re paid fairly? First, invest the time to understand your employer’s compensation program-how are pay decisions supposed to be made; second, talk to your supervisor and ask for their assistance in setting up a performance improvement plan that will enable you to achieve a higher level of pay; and third, if your supervisor fails to respond or play by the rules, talk to the HR Department about what recourse you have. In short, don’t sit still and wait for your pay to increase. It won’t … unless you do something about it.

    TheLadders.com launched four new channels on its site: OpsLadder for positions in consulting and general management, TechnologyLadder or postings in software design and engineering, HRLadder and LawLadder. These new offerings join the sites already established channels in finance, sales and marketing. All of the channels operate the same way: Job seekers pay $25 for access to the listings, while employers and recruiters can post their $100K+ job openings for free.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. If you’re an electrical engineer looking for a new opportunity, which of the following sites would cause a disruption in your job search?

  • IEEE.org
  • EngCen.com
  • Dice
  • ElectricPeople.com
  • 2. If you’re a cold fusion programmer who wants to get out of the contracting game, which of the following sites would take the bugs out of your plan?

  • DevBistro.com
  • JustColdFusionJobs.com
  • HouseofFusion.com
  • PlanetSourceCode.com
  • 3. If you’re a Spanish-speaking African-American professional seeking an employer that’s committed to diversity, which of the following sites would be prejudicial to your success?

  • IMDiversity.com
  • LatPro.com
  • BlackTalent.com
  • WorkplaceDiversity.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    NABA Online Career Center


    National Association of Black Accountants, Inc.

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National USA

    Number of jobs: 560

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/year, $101-150K/year

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely

    Restrictions on who can post: Members of NABA only

    Other services for job seekers: Career information

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. ElectricPeople.com, the site of a cabling and pre-wiring company for telephone and cable TV.

    2. All but HouseofFusion.com, a resource site for cold fusion programmers that does not offer job postings.

    3. BlackTalent.com, the site of a talent agency for African-American entertainers.