You may have seen the series of insurance commercials in which a Rod Serling-type announcer asks, “Could switching to Geico really save you 15% or more on car insurance?” In a current iteration, he then inquires, “Is the pen mightier than the sword?” After a ninja displays some slick sword work, the camera cuts to a man in martial arts clothing signing for an overnight delivery. He opens the box, pulls out an electronic device and zaps his adversary to the ground.
Posting a comment in 140 characters on Twitter doesn’t take much longer than that television spot. Unfortunately, sometimes the person tweeting doesn’t pause that long to ask, “How will this look if it shows up on the evening news?” Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall caused quite a stir last week – and was dropped by sponsors – after he tweeted comments questioning Osama bin Laden’s guilt in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In this fast-paced world of instant communication, it’s easier than at any time in history to state an opinion that quickly circles the globe. Unfortunately, not having the discipline to consider in advance the potential impact of your comments could lead to big regrets. The Moral of the Mendenhall Mess: Think before you tweet. Otherwise you might end up in full-contact self-defense.