By JOHN HALAMKA
Everything I write is personal, unfiltered, and transparent. Readers of my blog know where I am, what I’m doing, and what I’m thinking. They can share my highs and my lows, my triumphs and defeats.
Recently, I had my blog used against me for the first time.
In discussing a critical IT issue, someone questioned my focus and engagement because I had written a post about single malt scotch on June 2 at 3am, recounting an experience I had Memorial Day Weekend in Scotland.
I explained that I write these posts late at night, in a few minutes, while most people are sleeping. They are not a distraction but are a kind of therapy, enabling me to document the highlights of my day.
I realize that it is overly optimistic to believe that everyone I work with will embrace values like civility, equanimity, and a belief that the nice guy can finish first.
If Facebook can be used against college applicants to screen them for bad behavior and if review of web-based scholarly writing can be used by legislators to block executive appointment confirmations, what’s the right way to use social media to minimize personal harm?
There are three possibilities
1. Ignore the naysayers – blog, tweet, chat, IM, and wiki as you wish!
2. Give up – the world is filled with angry people who can stalk you, harass you, and criticize you. Better to keep your thoughts private.
3. Write what you think, back it up with evidence, and temper your emotions – assume the world will read everything you write and have an opinion, but transparency and communication, as long as it is fair, is the best policy.
I’ve chosen #3.
Why did the person criticize me for blogging about Single Malt?
I have three ideas
1. Maybe they did not understand that I only blog for a few minutes at the end of my 20 hour day, when all work and family responsibilities are done to the extent I can do them. Hence my blogging does not detract from anything else I do.
2. Maybe they cannot accept that I’ve done everything I can to serve my customers in the 20 hour day before blogging. In that case, it falls under my leadership principle, “You cannot please everyone”.
3. Maybe life is not fair and I should be judged by different criteria than other people. When I was 15, I wrote in my journal “If you are judged using rules that are inherently unfair or unreasonable, then you should realize that the game cannot be won. Stay true to your values, work hard, and all will be well.” No matter what people say or how harshly they criticize me, even when their ideas are not factual, I will stay true to my values – not pursuing fame or fortune, but simply trying to make a difference.
So the answer to the question is yes, blogging can hurt your career. However, if you take the high road, you’ll always get to where you want to be.