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9 Tips for Writing on the Internet Without Getting Fired

August 24, 2018

Extreme bonus tip: If you’re really worried about your job, do NOT put your writing on the internet. (image via wikimedia)

More people than ever are writing because of the internet.  Maybe it’s good that more people are writing, but a lot of these new people writing aren’t truly writers.  I don’t mean that in a writer-snob kind of way.  I mean that many of these new writers are actually talkers who are using writing as a tool.  This can be a problem.  Talkers are charming and personable, so when they say something tacky, people laugh and forgive it.

But when a charming talker writes a tacky comment and puts it on social media, it can be seen by countless people who don’t know how personable and charming the charming talker really is. Then the charming talker ends up getting fired, losing friends, or has to make embarrassing, insincere apologies.

The following tips for writing on the internet are for charming talkers (or anybody else) who want/need to write on the internet but don’t want to lose friends or get fired for it. These tips are not about grammar or punctuation.  Once you have mastered writing on the internet without getting fired, then you can worry about the grammar and punctuation.

But until then,please concentrate on these tips.

  1. Don’t write too much online.

Yeah, that can take the fun out of writing, but the less writing you put on the internet, the less stupid stuff that can get traced back to you.  If you do have to write, short responses are great.  My e-mails, texts, and social media entries are filled with “Yes,” “No,” and “I’ll get back to you later.”

Short responses keep you from keyboarding snide remarks that can come back to haunt you.  If you say “This job sucks,” to a co-worker, you can always deny it if the boss comes down on you.  If you write “This job sucks” in an email, tweet, or Facebook entry, there is no plausible deniability.  Saying somebody hacked into your account doesn’t work anymore, even if somebody did hack into your account.

  1. Avoid writing about personal problems.

Don’t get me wrong; I love reading about other people’s problems.  But if you choose to write about it publicly, a lot of people who aren’t really your friends are going to read it.  You’re basically providing free entertainment to readers you don’t know.   And if the readers do know you, it can lead to awkward situations later.

The possibility of having an awkward situation will not stop acquaintances (or employers) from reading about your personal problems (and making comments behind your back).  The only way to stop this is to not write about your personal problems.  If you absolutely need to write about your problems, don’t publish (or send) what you wrote.

  1. Do not admit to personal vices.

Vices are really fun.  Whether it’s getting drunk, getting high, hanging out with people of ill-repute, tearing up property during a protest, it’s best if you don’t brag about it.  If you do write about your vices, make it sound fictional.

  1. Leave job related issues at work

Writing is a blast, but getting paid is way better.  If you ever criticize your boss or employer or anybody who is giving you money, do it behind the scenes so that it can’t get traced back to you.  Don’t put it in an e-mail, or a tweet, or on Facebook.

And if you absolutely have to take a stand (it happens!), be very careful about what you write.  At the very least, that means deleting a lot of adjectives.  And maybe have a trusted friend proofread it.

  1. Don’t write jokes that aren’t funny.

Yeah, I know the whole internet is filled with jokes that aren’t funny.  I get it.  At least when I write a bunch of lame, tasteless jokes, I’ll title it something like BEST LAME, TASTELESS, OFFENSIVE PORN JOKES EVER!  You know what to expect from me, there’s a context to the lame jokes, and I don’t attach them to my name, or my employer, or anybody who knows me.

  1. Don’t write when you are emotional.

It’s okay to write stuff when you’re angry, or sad, or exhilarated, or in any other extreme emotion.  But you’d be better off waiting until you’re in the right frame of mind before you actually publish it.  Extremely emotional tweets can be very entertaining, but most people don’t write emotional stuff to entertain; they write extremely emotional stuff to vent.

Venting should be done in private.  Then when you’re calm, go over it (delete all the adjectives and insults), and then… maybe… think about publishing it.

  1. Don’t write when you are drunk (or in a similar condition).

When you’re drunk (or in a similar condition), you don’t have control over yourself, so obviously you shouldn’t be writing.  The problem is that people who aren’t in control of themselves often don’t realize they aren’t in control of themselves.  I once wrote (what I thought was) an awesome joke when I wasn’t in control of myself and the next morning realized it said something like: “Lkomp gmbpg  ju  tyggdew bjklr!”

One commenter said it was the best joke I had ever written.

  1. Do not write when you are in a hurry (unless you’re going to get fired or get a bad grade for having nothing).

Always take a moment to think through your writing before you publish it.  I once had a writing instructor say that a writer should leave a rough draft alone for six months before proofreading it.  Unfortunately, I did that with my tweets, and got stuck with a bunch of 140 character “LeBron James chokes” jokes that are out of date.

Still, if you’re tweeting or texting, at least look them over closely before you send them.  Think about the appropriateness of what you wrote and make sure the automatic spell check didn’t mess anything up.

  1. Do not multi-task while writing.

Some activities can be multi-tasked, and others can’t.  I can fold my laundry and watch football at the same time.  But there are at least three things you shouldn’t multi-task during:  driving, reading legal documents, and writing.

Writing while doing something else can lead to disastrous mistakes.  Yeah, it might just be a missing word, but it could also mean sending the wrong message (“My job sucks!”) to the wrong people (your employers).  And that’s way worse than using the wrong form of  “their” or “two.”

*****

Some people may complain that following my advice will lead to really boring writing on the internet.  That would happen only if everybody followed my advice.  The world is full of people who don’t follow advice, no matter how wise it is, so there will always be people who write entertaining stuff and get fired for it.

Just make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

5 Comments
  1. I’m kinda afraid to comment.

  2. Relevant & great post! Mind if I pass it on to certain POTUS?

  3. Gauri Badoni. permalink

    Thanks for this. It’ll help me keep my job & blog. :p

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