Watercooler Work-Life Balance

Social Media Gaffes That Get You Fired

Written by Miranda Pennington

Jim Vassallo over at Gig.com has some cautionary tales for young workers, raised in social media’s first big heyday, who may not see how their online communication habits can affect their worklife.

1. Using Social Media At Work

Unless your title includes “social media manager” or you’re on your lunch break, you shouldn’t be posting on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram while you’re at work. If your employer finds out, it may suggest you’re not sufficiently engaged by your job and might be happier on the couch with severance instead. So, protect your account if you must tweet on the way to the conference room.

2. Posting Photos With Alcohol

This is mostly for underage employees—no employer in their right mind could make a case banning consenting adults from having a beer—but do keep an eye out for unflattering or unprofessional photos of any kind on public social media accounts. True, you have the right to be off the clock and the right to drink—but you won’t want to face your office on a Monday after a photo of you passed out in a pool of tequila went viral on Facebook.

3. Making Complaints About Work

This is obvious. Take your favorite coworker out to for coffee a healthy distance away rather than tweeting through it.

4. Discussing Confidential Information

Remember the hospital staffer who posted the name of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’s daughter? If you don’t, it’s because she was fired immediately.

5. Posting About Clients

Many companies make their employees sign non-disclosure agreements; even if yours doesn’t, consider anonymous venues like Clientsfromhell if you really need to vent. Kvetching on social media is unprofessional, can cost your employer paying business, and even ruin your reputation for future jobs.

As satisfying as it is to rant online, there’s no sense in letting it compromise your career—not when there are so many privacy settings currently available for millennials with chips on their shoulders!

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.