Your Internet Presence – Part 3: Avoiding Disaster

Six Disaster Areas to Avoid!

As you strive to clean up and improve your Internet presence, using your SWOT analysis, let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the possible weaknesses and threats to your Internet presence.  In last week’s post, I suggested that you assess your head shots and other photos that are posted to your Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.  Here are some other online issues you should address and assess:

(1)  Sex and Nudity

Any activities that involve sex or nudity can obviously have a negative impact on your reputation and brand, as well as your social, romantic or family life.  You cannot control whether people are snapping photos and posting them to the Internet, but you can control your behavior.  Letting your hair down should not involve behavior that can in an instant overshadow all the good you have done.  If you must go wild, leave the dirty dishes overnight or dance with that lampshade on your head by yourself, with no witnesses.  In all seriousness, while it’s fine to have fun, please keep your clothes on while others are around with their handy smart phones that have those potential career-ending cameras!

In addition writing about sexual encounters or including other sexual content on your personal sites or others’ can be viewed as inappropriate and offensive by others, such as your potential employer (there goes your job opportunity), grandmother (there goes your birthday gift) or new significant other (there goes your true love life).

(2)  Politics

While I hope that everyone is up on the political issues of the day, and is an active citizen and voter, unless you are specifically publishing a political blog, it’s wise to be cautious when expressing one’s opinion online, including posts to your websites, comments on news articles, emails, etc.  And, if you do find occasion to express your political views, do so in a civil, courteous, thoughtful and respectful manner.

(3)  Religion

This can be an even trickier topic than politics.   If your religious beliefs are an integral part of your life, you should certainly celebrate and practice them.  In doing so, however, take care to avoid statements online that are disrespectful of others’ beliefs and take on a tone of controversy and combativeness.  Healthy and productive conversations and debates are encouraged; personal attacks on those who believe differently and express their view online should be avoided.   

(4)  Illegal Behavior

Obviously, you should avoid illegal behavior in all areas of your life, including online.  Making false statements or fraudulent offers can land you in a lot of hot water.  But, you can get tripped up in other, less direct, ways.  Take this scenario, for example:  you attend a great party, have a few drinks and then, while driving home from the party later you’re pulled over and arrested on a charge of DWI.  You’re booked, finger-printed and photographed in one of those ghastly orange jumpsuits!  The photo is posted on the Internet, as is the practice of the police department where your case was processed.  What a disaster!  Should anyone search for your name, up might pop that horrific photo.  Many companies will not hire someone with an arrest record, let alone a photo of the arrest for everyone to see, including the company’s clients!  Lesson: make good choices and keep on the right side of the law!

(5)  Language

It seems as though bad language is all over the internet.  Poor grammar combined with hostile attitudes and obscenities abound.  Your speech is part of your image, brand and reputation when meeting people in person, working with your classmates and colleagues and interacting with friends, neighbors and the like.  Why, then, would anyone think it is different on the Internet?  I’m speaking of rude comments on news articles and websites, angry and insulting tweets, poorly written emails…Etc! Etc! Etc!  Cleaning up your language on the Internet will be taking a giant step towards cleaning up your online presence. 

(6)  Everything Else

Long, long ago and far, far away before the Internet landed on Earth, my mother told me not to do anything that I did not want everyone to read about on the front page of the local newspaper.  That kept me on the straight and narrow (for the most part).  We all love to be a bit daring now and then, and we all use poor judgment from time to time – although if we’re lucky that latter does not occur too often.  But, we must remember that it’s not just celebrities whose photos are in demand these days; indeed, anyone’s likeness can wind up on the Internet somewhere or everywhere.  Often, that can be a good thing; sometimes it can be a bad thing; and occasionally it can create an ugly situation.

To avoid these five disaster areas when crafting your Internet presence, pay attention, be alert and let your conscience — and your gut – be your guides.

Next Tuesday, we’ll address the steps to your positive Internet presence.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!


Until next time,




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