04/18/12 276 W - + 6 - 3 You Have The Right To Remain Silent

And the right to speak your mind, at least with regard to constitutionally protected speech. That issue is being discussed by Statter911 readers in a posting yesterday about a Florida firefighter who is drawing attention for comments posted on Facebook. At the highest level, it begs a great question: just 'cause you can do something, should you do that thing? And are you prepared for the reality of the consequences, should they occur? (Observe my word "reality.") Here's my comment on the comments, posted late yesterday. Mind you, Mr. Blogger is neither a constitutional scholar nor plays one on television. I have however yelled "theater!" at a crowded fire scene before...

Legeros says:
Any conclusions to draw, from the first day’s discussion? I keep thinking about school teachers, and the repeated stories that I hear about them getting disciplined for, say, being seen or photographed drinking a beer away from work.

There are probably “teacher’s personal codes of conduct” out there that we would shake our heads about. But let’s apply that line of thinking to emergency services.

Are there personal behaviors that are (a.) perfectly legal but (b.) entirely problematic if announced or advertised to the world? I think we know the answer, and its compounded by the digital age.

Much like the reports from Key West the other week, and all the school kids behaving better during spring break. Why? Because they all feared Facebook photos and other postings would reveal their indulgent activities.

There are more eyes for the watching than ever before.

April 17, 2012

More and more agencies and corporations are adopting social networking policies – and many are also conducting background checks via social networks. Bottom line is once you post it – the content is there FOREVER so you better be prepared to stand by (or don’t do it).
Joe Brady (Email) (Web Site) - 04/18/12 - 09:12

It is amazing the change during my career at the speed at which photos (and other stuff) gets in the media. You can have your photo taken and seconds later it is readily available worldwide. The way that information (good and bad) can travel to the masses is amazing, too.

As to “personal behavior issues”, I think that the public probably expects us (as emergency providers) to behave in similar ways that they expect our teachers to. Maybe not to the extreme of not being seen with an adult beverage in your hand, since, thanks to TV, it seems to be an acceptable behavior to have a drink or two (or three of four) for firefighters, paramedics, and police officers, but I do believe that they hold us to a higher standard. At the same time, I think we are more prone to being allowed ‘second’ (and third) chances more so than teachers.

I think that the digital age and the advent of social media has outpaced our ability, in some sorts, to set reasonable policies and expectations. The advent of My Space, and then Facebook, accelerated the change faster than most folks could fathom.

The problem is, sometimes, in the haste of action in the event of perceived bad behavior, knee jerk rules are set, and the real potential of this new ‘social media’ is lost upon the powers that be. Its use is restricted, or in some cases, banned. Good idea? I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

Sure, there are considerations such as privacy, HIPAA, good tastes, and just plain old common sense, but I don’t think they are enough to throw the baby out with the bath water.

And finally, you are a master of what you don’t put out there, and slave to what you do. And I am certainly guilty of that, being a regular poster here, a blogger myself, and a regular presence on Facebook. And I am perfectly willing to stand by anything I say, type, or blog about, knowing that there may be consequences. Mostly from the misinformed or insecure.

At the end of the day, I can look at the person in the mirror and be OK with him. And that, in my final words on this post, is all that really matters to me.
DJ - 04/19/12 - 12:08

Thanks for adding your thoughts DJ. One interesting aspect of this involves requests for service. I’ll wager that just about any social media scandal will NOT affect someone’s dialing 911, when they have a fire, or a heart attack, or…

Could there be a collective affect? If an agency received bad press after bad press, might their customers loose confidence in their ability to help? Maybe. But in high-panic mode, I think we’re probably hard-wired to dial 911.

Thus, reputation management is for affecting a different set of outcomes. One’s personal employment, for example. There’s also public support, which is invariably tied to funding and approval for things asked for.
Legeros - 04/21/12 - 11:51

Remember personal info?

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