Tweet, but don’t be a twit

Disclaimer: Some names and faces have been changed in this blog to protect the guilty.

It’s been said (and blogged) by countless others before; and one would hope common sense might prevail overall; but when it comes to using Twitter don’t tweet something inappropriate that could cost you your job.

Courtesy of

Most if not all of us are guilty of a Twitter faux pas now and again, but to be blatantly rude and/or insulting to another and in such a public fashion is a fool’s folly. It is an especially daft move if in your Twitter bio you’re also advertising what it is you do for a living and who your employer is.

For instance, yours truly recently tweeted a remark about the plight of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey club after reading a Globe & Mail blog post by @dshoalts entitled, “Reinsdorf back in the Phoenix picture”.  The thrust of Shoalts’ blog was that Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is apparently once again considering acquiring the Phoenix Coyotes from the National Hockey League (NHL) with an aim to keep the decade-long, financially unsuccessful team in the Arizona desert. I, like most NHL hockey fans I know in Canada and the U.S., think this unwise.

Thus, last week I tweeted: “There’s a sucker born every minute – Reinsdorf back in Phoenix picture” with a link to Shoalts’ blog. I added “hash-tags” (the “#” symbol) to my tweet for “#Coyotes” and “#NHL”, thereby ensuring Twitter categorized my tweet so that anyone following NHL or Coyotes news on Twitter might also see my tweet and the story link I provided. This is common practice.

A few minutes thereafter, as is also common on Twitter, someone responded to my tweet. Only this individual did so in an incredibly pisse pauvre fashion and clearly without considering the consequences beforehand (see image below).

It turns out, the man who responded to my tweet by stating “Toronto douchebags are born every 30 seconds” also happens to be the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for a medical imaging software firm in Arizona.

At first, I was stunned (but I had the presence of mind to take a screen shot). How could someone that is the CTO of a company say something so incredibly ignorant and for the entire world to see? I was criticizing a wealthy sports owner’s apparent plans to buy a failed NHL franchise and for that, this software executive insults Torontonians? It seemed over the top.

I responded: “And you’re the CTO of a company? #yikes”. Within minutes, my friend in Arizona changed his Twitter bio to remove all references to his lot in life and his employer. Alas, it was too late for him.

I decided to share the above screen capture with his company and asked them if they thought his remark was an appropriate comment for their CTO to make online. I never got a response directly, but it appears he was spoken to, for about an hour after that, this tweet appeared:

Apparently my friend in Arizona learned a lesson but he continues to miss the bigger picture. Insulting French Canadians’ love of poutine as a result indicates this guy doesn’t get it. He’s also clearly unaware that most Torontonians don’t consume poutine on a regular basis. I’m not sure of many Canadians that do but I’m willing to bet it’s more likely to be eaten regularly in Quebec. Poutine is delicious if you’ve never had it, but I digress.

*Updated: After posting this blog I saw this story online: “World Poutine Eating Championship Returns to Toronto“. Hilarious!*

Shortly thereafter, my friend locked down his Twitter account. That means unless he approves you as a follower, you won’t be able to read his tweets at all.

Now let me be clear: This has nil to do with nationalities (at least not for me).

I threw a veritable body check at an opponent. My friend thought my elbow was up a bit high and dropped the gloves. He was, in his mind I’m sure, defending his city’s NHL franchise. That, I can respect.

But that wasn’t the case here. This CTO, whose company does indeed have clients in parts of Canada including Quebec, better be praying one of his firm’s customers didn’t take note of our exchange.

And that’s the lesson this man simply didn’t learn: What you do with social tools such as Twitter can have a dramatic impact on you personally and professionally. Whether those impacts prove to be positive or negative depends entirely on how you use them.

Have you had an experience like this or do you have a comment on mine? I’d appreciate your insights. Please leave your mark in the box below.


About @LiamLahey

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5 Responses to Tweet, but don’t be a twit

  1. 托福補習班 says:

    I hope other folks consider your post listed here as helpful as I have.

  2. Anth says:

    I apologize if I’ve been a twit on Twitter.

  3. @LiamLahey says:

    Don’t be silly Anthony! And yes, I’ve settled in quite nicely brother. Thanks for asking.

  4. Darren says:

    Brilliant post Liam. Well written and a lesson in common sense. Sometimes one just has to stop and take a moment before hitting send… or in this case, tweet.

  5. @LiamLahey says:

    Much appreciated Darren! Cheers!

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