The bottom line on avoiding digital damage to your reputation
It seems no-one ever told Germany’s football coach Joachim Löw that to get filmed doing something unpleasant (like picking your nose) once may be regarded as a misfortune, but to be caught again (scratching your nether regions and then apparently sniffing your hand), is, well, to put it mildly, careless.
To put it bluntly, it’s utterly flabbergasting.
After all, to capture those pitchside moments of a coach’s despair or joy (or both, in Roy Hodgson’s case) when his team is playing an international, surely means the camera is trained on the boss in the dug-out throughout the entire match, so the all-important moment is not lost. If true and well-known, this makes Löw’s behaviour even more astonishing.
Thankfully, few of us are likely to have a high enough public profile to ensure worldwide interest in our minor mishaps, but thanks to 24-hour globally connected technology, if we want to avoid discovering we suddenly do have a global reputation, simply because of the mishap itself (rather than the combination of mishap + celebrity status), we can still learn from Löw's cock-up.
Smartphones are now in the pockets of two-thirds of UK adults, and 90 per cent of 16-24-year-olds own one, according to an Ofcom report from 2015. If you go out and about with the mindset that most people around you can whip out their phone and use its camera at any moment, you might just think twice, should you be contemplating doing something daft/dangerous/stupid/hilarious.
It’s worth noting the Löw story gained a good deal of traction from clips of the TV coverage filmed on smartphones and then tweeted.
MailOnline columnist Katie Hopkins warned in a recent podcast that it’s fine for people to have a go at her in tweets, but they need to be aware that, “If you come on my Twitterfeed and want to have a go, go for your life, but if I choose to take you out, I will take you out at the knees, I will embarrass you in front of 650,000 people, so you should be prepared for that.”
Too often people use social media without thinking about its wider impact. If you have a go at a celebrity via social media, it might not just be about you and them, it could easily be about you, them, their followers and beyond...
Nothing is truly private. Even if you post something cute and funny, if it goes viral, do you really want the attention that might garner?
Never post anything without thinking about what your boss/granny/headteacher might make of it. Ask yourself how it might backfire.
Once anything is online you have lost control of it. One of the things we say to teenagers in our workshops is, “How would you feel about your friends knowing what TV programmes you loved to watch when you were eight?” Most squirm at this point. So, as an adult, how would you feel about your peers viewing those Youtube videos you uploaded or photos you posted when you were 13 or, if you’ve posted them of your children, how will they feel?
As we’ve seen already, the Euro2016 tournament has reputational dangers at every turn - from street brawls to alcohol-fuelled social media photo opps at the vast fanzones.
And as Löw found out, no matter how well your team plays, it’s very easy to concede an own goal off the pitch.