It seems you are never too far away from a sex scandal. It could be in the arts, business leadership, or as Canadians saw earlier this month, in federal politics. Courtesy of MP Tony Clement, we witnessed once again a person behaving badly who, in response, will be seeking help for poor judgment.
Done – until the next story breaks about a high-profile individual doing the same thing – inappropriate sexual conduct, whether that be in person or, more damaging professionally, on the internet.
We should learn from this example – but many do not, as it seems to show up every few months, and that is only those we know about. No matter how many times high-profile people are caught, people are still doing it and risking not only their personal lives, but their careers.
If you behave badly on the internet, your personal life may be the least of your worries. Given time and possible understanding, it may be put back together. Your career – not so much, if ever. Many do not think about this, especially if they are some average person without a role in the public eye. Yes, the “don’t put anything on the Internet you would not want sent to everyone you know” story has been done before. It seems like it needs to be done again, with advice of what to do and not to do.
Think about it – you have a LinkedIn profile, as many professionals do. You are not hard to find, and neither is your employer. It takes just one unhappy online exchange and revenge plans go into action. Ruining your professional reputation is so much more publicly damaging. If a disgruntled recipient is going to hit, they will hit hard, and before you know it, a sex video is sent to the president of your company, whose name is easily found on the company website.
What makes matters worse: Many, many people use their company cellphones, and even company e-mails, for this type of exchange. It seems like a crazy thing to do, but people do it all the time. It’s traceable, a proven display of reckless actions and abuse of company property. It is also grounds for dismissal.
How does the average person avoid getting their professional reputation ruined due to what seemed like harmless online sexual prowess?
How about not doing it at all? Engaging in online sexually explicit activities, regardless of who it is with, is simply not a good idea. You may know your partner, but anything online is not all that private. There is always a sent record, a deleted record, a saved folder – and this is from someone you trust. Many times, these exchanges are done with some “random” person, as it appears with Mr. Clement.
If the person on the other end is doing it, don’t reciprocate. Delete it and tell them to stop. If needed, block their e-mail and number. Use old fashioned, real-time contact instead.
What these and other high-profile people who have committed similar wrongdoings could do is pay it forward. Instead of saying “pride and vanity is to blame,” they could educate others and warn people of the serious ramifications any type of sexting and online videos and photos can have for a career. The public embarrassment notwithstanding, for regular people it is a career limiting move if caught – and there is a strong possibility you will get caught. Listen to them and learn from their mistakes.
What to do if your junk is out there?
Well, not much now, but stop doing it. It’s like smoking – the damage is done but you can stop possible further damage. Stop taking sexual photos and making sexual videos and hope your past will not come back to you.
You may think online sexual conduct is okay because you will not make the national news. It really does not matter. And yes, it is your private time, and what you do in your time is your business. You trust the random person you are sending photos and videos to. As many scorned have found out – trust is only good until it is not.
You should enjoy the life you want, online and off – but be aware of possible irreversible consequences to your career.
Or, save yourself some trouble and do not, I repeat, do not do it. Ever.
Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.