Communication can be dangerous, but people can be dicks

Jim Coudal links to a story just now with the link line "Twitter can be dangerous". To summarize, a young woman twittered about a job offer from Cisco and wondered aloud "Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work." Tim Levald, Cisco's Community Development Strategist found the tweet and responded, "Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."

Cue gnashing of teeth and dire warnings that nothing is private anymore and that "in these economic times" you shouldn't ever say anything bad about anyone. And, you know, sure. I myself certainly never (well, hardly ever) blog about work. But you know what, it does get my goat a bit that all the blame is likely to piled on this young woman. Because Tim Levald comes across as a bit of a dick in this short exchange. His job is to develop community and his first response to a comment about his company is to publicy mock and belittle that person (and an assertion that Cisco is aware of all internet traditions) not a quick DM with "You do know that your tweets aren't protected and that people from Cisco are finding them on searches."

Because if Tim is really "versed in the web" he might be aware that Twitter lets you compose messages of 140 characters. Which often loses something called nuance. Maybe all of this young woman's friends, who were who she thought she was communicating with, understand that by "hating the work" she means working at all or it's an injoke or who knows... we're not her friends.

The internet gives us more and more chances to make social gaffes. It also gives us all more and more chances to be generous and let people gracefully back out of those gaffes -- or more and more chances to be a dick.

Update: I wanted to make sure I wasn't being too unkind to Mr. Levald, so I went to look at his Twitter stream. He's asking people to retweet the exchange with an all-caps "#FAIL" tag. God, what a dick.