I received an e-mail from a friend this morning asking for my opinion on the Travel Channel indefinitely postponing the show, Man Finds Food, after host Adam Richman lashed out on his Instagram account using profanities with those leaving comments on his picture. My friend prefaced his question to me by saying that he felt it was well within Richman’s right to use whatever language he felt he needed to with followers of his account. If someone upsets you on social media, he argued, a person — regardless of their celebrity status — should be able to respond as they see fit.
Let’s be clear. It is well within the right of any person to say what they want to, as they are protected by the first amendment of The Constitution guaranteeing free speech. However, it does not excuse or protect them from consequences that may follow. This is a distinction often lost in translation.
Whether we look at Donald Sterling, Paula Deen, or Adam Richman, comments made in public, private, or social media can bring severe repercussions if the employer or related business partners find them to be offensive.
Regardless of it being an A-list celebrity like Justin Bieber or a D-list celebrity like Adam Richman, private citizens are accustomed to seeing the rise and fall of national figures due to public relations blunders from a distance. However, as we become further entrenched in a social media driven society, the rules of proper behavior around the clock no longer apply exclusively to celebrities, politicians, and other public figures. We are all now very much accountable for what we do or say in a forum that is public, or could ever be made public, and can be held responsible for it years later.
Those that choose to make their social media profiles visible to all have an open microphone to the general public. The new trend of employers is to go beyond the traditional receipt and review of resumes. They now go a step, or several steps, further to search for social media profiles, public images on Google, and anything else that they can find on the internet that will provide them a better insight of the character of the applicant. The employer then decides whether the values of the individual that they researched are aligned with those of the company or business.
Some argued initially that this was going beyond the realm of the interview process, but those arguments have since been hushed as it is inevitable that one is more likely to be “Googled” than not.
A new survey from CareerBuilder found that 51 percent of employers who research job candidates on social media said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43 percent last year and 34 percent in 2012.
Your resume is now just one part of your public profile. It is a new aspect that the current and next generation of job-seekers are learning very quickly. Having the freedom to express your opinions, even off of social media, is not something that will be questioned. However, the manner in which they are expressed is what becomes a part of your brand.
Just as a criminal history is detrimental in landing a job, so too is a public and/or social media blemish. This includes but is not limited to photos, language, or humor that the employer finds inappropriate. Even after hiring, companies have begun to incorporate social media etiquette in their policies and procedures.
Getting back to the conversation I had over e-mail this morning, I explained that the reason Richman’s show might never see the light of day is because his name and face are a representation of the Travel Channel (albeit a small one). The argument for Donald Sterling been banned from the N.B.A. is because his views on race are inconsistent with those of the league.
The rough equivalent to celebrities being punished for public lapses in judgment or outright foolish behavior would be the “Average Joe” wearing a shirt with a prominent logo of his/her employer and partaking in inappropriate acts in public that draw negative attention. Once the employer finds out, odds are, he/she will be disciplined or relieved of their duties.
How we carry ourselves in public and on social media is now a part of our lasting brand and image. While the rules of the game have certainly changed over the past 20 years, they are what they are.
To avoid finding ourselves in a less than ideal situation, it is best to err on the side of caution and shift the thought process to, “Will I jeapordize my career if I do or say this”, rather than, “I have the right to say this.”
I have a feeling that is what Richman will think for the rest of his career, or whatever is left of it.