What happens when you reach an important goal? Let's say that a project that you have worked hard on is a great success. An investment that you have made doubles the value. Or you land a dream job. If you are like most people, such successes can make you believe in your own talent and smart knowledgeable. You can crow the world about how wonderful you are, and that's fine. But in this age of social media and direct access, remember that everyone and everyone will listen when you do that.
That is an important lesson that a nameless young woman has just learned in the hard way. Identified as Naomi H (Twitter handle @NaomiH_official), she has apparently recently landed a coveted internship at NASA. She was very excited, some said maybe too excited. She announced her appointment with profane exuberance in a tweet: "EVERYONE THE F – K UP / I GOT FOR A NASA STAGE"
Homer Hickam, a former NASA engineer, current member of the National Space Council, and inspiration for the film October Sky, based on his memoirs Rocket Boys, the tweet happened to be. "I am a veterinarian in Vietnam and not at all offended by the F-word", Hickam later explained in a blog post that apparently has been removed but is still filed here. "When I saw NASA and used the word together, I realized that this young person would get in trouble if NASA saw it." And so he tweeted her a warning of one word: & # 39; Language & # 39 ;.
Now, here is where Naomi H – and some of her friends – could have changed the whole outcome of this story. Take the warning in the spirit for which it was intended. Pay some attention. This is still the federal government you are dealing with, and although it may have a lot of service Right stuff Chuck Yeager types, it also has many bureaucrats who are not known for their appreciation for youthful exuberance or street language. The smartest move would have been to remove the original tweet. But they would probably have been good with the second smartest move, which would simply have been nothing.
They have not chosen any of these options. Instead Naomi H responded to Hickam with more blasphemy: "Suck my dick and balls that I work at NASA"
Hickam answered with admirable restraint only: "And I am a member of the National Space Council that oversees NASA."
With friends like this …
Perhaps there is still a chance to save the situation at that moment. After Hickam had explained who he was, Naomi H might have realized that she had made a mistake. (Since then she seems to have made her Twitter account private.) Unfortunately, some of her well-meaning friends have apparently jumped to defend her. Hickam only notes that they have said "many unfriendly things", although if their everyday language is similar to hers, it is likely that their comments are just as profane. But – and here is the most stupid part of this very stupid story …they used the hashtag #NASA in their messages to Hickam.
It is quite possible that up to that moment no NASA official was aware of the exchange. But NASA employees pay attention to the hashtag #NASA, as you would expect. They saw the conversation. And, according to Hickam's blog post, they decided to withdraw the internship from Naomi H. Hickam goes out of his way to notice that he had nothing to do with this – he could have nothing to do with it because he was not directly involved in hiring or firing. He also writes that the young woman contacts him with what he calls an unnecessary apology. He says that he in turn offered his apologies and after he spoke with Naomi H and assessed her resume, she came to the conclusion that she deserves a good job in aerospace and is working to help her to get one. He also says that he has contacted NASA to ensure that there is no black spot on her album. He even says that she can apply again for an internship if she wants to. (NASA has not issued a public statement about the incident so far.)
This story may have a good ending for Naomi H, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Hickam's spirit. If so, she is very lucky. In most situations you can not tell your boss's boss that he should "suck my dick and balls" and that he expects a good job.
As always, it is a simple lesson. When it comes to social media, you have three choices. You can set your privacy settings to determine who sees what you say. You can limit yourself to posting or tweeting content that you do not mind if your mother or your boss saw it. Or you may face the likelihood that something – what you have done now or in the future – might reverse something that you have done or said on social media to harm your career.