One should always be careful at holiday parties, when alcohol typically flows and bad decisions often follow. Whether it is office-sponsored or just a gathering among friends and neighbors, this year presents greater risks than holiday seasons past for your online reputation.
Cameras, cameras everywhere
Every year, it becomes easier for holiday party misdeeds to be captured digitally. According to Pew Research Center, more than three quarters (77%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. That means that three out of four folks at your party have a camera in close proximity – and many are not afraid to use it. For the younger crowd, smartphones are even more prevalent, as 92% of 18- to 29-year-olds have one. So when you are thinking about having that extra glass of wine, imagine that nearly every adult under the age of 30 can take your photo in an instant. Be on your best behavior, don’t order a round of shots and don’t complain, even if you think the food is lousy or the ambiance is lacking or lame. Primarily, you don’t want to start a ruckus that gets posted online.
Political tensions still running high
Even though we are one year removed from the incredibly contentious and divisive presidential election, tensions are still running high among Americans. The Russia investigations, a polarizing election in Alabama and the avalanche of daily tweets from the Oval Office all make for interesting conversations, but it’s best to keep your opinions muted when celebrating the holiday season. If you mix heavily opinionated talk with too much spiked eggnog, you open yourself up to contentious conversations which won’t help you at the office or with your neighbors. Spirited arguments can be misinterpreted, and you don’t want your anti- (insert politician here) rant to find its way to a social media site near you.
Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself
Society is on heightened alert about sexual harassment, and a holiday party’s mix of booze and collegiality can make for a bad concoction.
- Thinking about hooking-up during the annual office get together? Bad idea.
- Believe your take on Harvey Weinstein is subtly humorous and thought provoking? It isn’t.
- Feel like society is over-correcting? Keep it to yourself.
Did I mention nearly everyone at your holiday gathering has a camera capable of making a YouTube video?
Funny ha-ha? Or Funny creepy?
Nobody likes a good joke as much as me, but don’t fall into a trap thinking that your idea of funny matches that of the boss’s wife. Just like you should steer clear of politics, getting racy with your jokes is a prescription best left unfilled.
Take the case of U.S. Senator Al Franken, who recently resigned. He’s famously funny, but an ill-advised sight gag (and other inappropriate behavior) from two years prior to being elected to the Senate led to his resignation. Even a guy who worked on Saturday Night Live has issues determining what is funny in our subjective world.
The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy the company of our friends and relatives, but we need to be careful because any misdeeds (perceived or otherwise) can be quickly cataloged online – and cause lasting reputational damage.
For more information on online reputation issues, visit DavidPR.com and check out my book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online. Follow me on Twitter @johnpdavid.