Internet Street Smarts: Don’t link your job to your social media

So here’s a new blog post series I’m going to start, and I’m calling it “internet street smarts”.

There’s a term in the real world called “street smarts” and it boils down to common sense, common sense you need to survive out in “the streets”. For example, knowing when someone is going to fuck you over, knowing where not to go at night, and knowing how to get yourself out of a situation so you’re not a statistic. You can hear plenty of stories about people who lacked these on the daily news, from someone who got shot for being in the wrong part of town at the wrong time and place, to well, people who decide to do something so stupid they’d win a Darwin award for it if the Darwin awards had a category for “suicide by stupidity.” Case in point: Otto Warmbier, a college student who became the butt of jokes on late night talk shows (before they deleted their clips of it after he died) after he went to North Korea and came home in a body bag. He went there as a challenge, got drunk, decided to steal a sign as a trophy from a staff only area of the hotel, and was sentenced to prison in one of North Korea’s concentration camp style prisons. He came home with brain damage and died in the USA, at one of the top medical centers in his city.

Or hell, look at the latest one, the cycling couple who thought that the word evil was made up, that the papers make everything look bad, and people are nice. They had a blog decided to their worldwide biking journey and their lifestyle of living an endless vacation, a blog that came to an abrupt end. They decided to bike into an area of Tajikistan where ISIS had a presence and got killed by a vehicle attack. A few days later, the attackers made a video, vowing to kill disbelievers and pledging allegiance to ISIS. Right now there’s a travel advisory on said country because of the attack, which borders a country that has a Level 4 travel advisory (which means “Do Not Travel”).

Now of course, both of those incidents, along with many others, are examples of people who lacked street smarts in the real world. Lacking street smarts online won’t lead to you dying most likely unless you do something like piss off a third world government or person with power, but you can get pretty close to this, such as losing your job and being blacklisted from being hired again, and “unpersoned” on the social media public squares. Or worse, people will lead you into shitty life choices to the point where you consider suicide for the first time in your life.

So that’s the point of these posts. I’ll show you examples of giant internet fuckups or sketchy situations and you can take lessons from these to avoid doing stupid shit online. It should be common sense, but as any IT person knows, never assume anyone has basic common sense, or you’ll end up with a screeching pissed off customer on the other line and a complaint.

The ballad of @NaomiH_Official and how to lose a job fast

Now today’s story is about two people and a Twitter interaction that ruined future job prospects for a while, along with costing someone an internship that lasted only four tweets. Yes, four tweets was all it took for an internship to come crumbling down.

Our protagonists are two people from very different backgrounds. The person this Twitter exchange revolves around is the Twitter user @NaomiH_Official, a 21 year old trans woman with “she/her” pronouns and a bio that claims they are a “sad engineer who pretends to be a deer on the internet”. From what intel I’ve gathered (which isn’t much considering how their real name wasn’t online and their sudden urge to lock their account, which I’ll get to later) they were a promising aerospace engineer who decided to troon out, and in telegram groups they left because of jokes. As a general rule, the more insane someone seems online, the more likely they are to be offended by jokes but that’s another story.

From their Twitter feed (at least what was archived), they seemed like your average hedonistic nerd living in the west and reaping its benefits, while raging about how unfair it all is. While being able to reap the benefits of a capitalistic system including buying furry art and hormones/surgery for the sex change operation, they hate Trump and the prison system, sharing the same political views of everyone else in their friend circle and retweeting blue ticks. Their Twitter icon is their fursona pasted in front of the trans pride flag, and their banner talked about an esports team called “Hormone Replacement Gaming”, and this isn’t some joke I made when I was younger and making esports team name jokes. While this speculation is a shot in the dark based on others I’ve seen online, chances are they had a privileged childhood and life, or at least a relatively privileged lifestyle. Dime a dozen, I’ve seen these people so many times that for the most part they’d blend into the mass hivemind of genderspecials and former/current Tumblr users online. There was one thing though and one thing that stood out: They got a NASA internship.

To them, this NASA internship was a big step in their life. After all, it’s every playground kids dream when they ask what you want to be when you grow up, before their mom tells them “No that’s too hard” after humoring them about their fantasies for a few days/weeks. Many of them don’t get to the point where their internship is dull office work or where they realize that NASA is a shell of what it once was, and chances are this person was a diversity hire. But either way, it’s also NASA and NASA has a prestigious name to it.

Let’s take a look at our other protagonist in this twitter exchange, who happens to be none other than Homer Hickam, a 75 year old man with such a claim to fame that he even has his own Wiki page. Now Homer Hickam is the polar opposite of Naomi in quite a few ways. First look at his Twitter bio. We can see a professional photograph of himself (later changed to a drawing of himself) and his bio proclaims he’s a bestselling author, a cancer survivor, and a Vietnam vet, and that’s only scratching the surface.

Homer Hickam’s life story was how he, a man living in a coal mining town, built rockets and later on to get a degree in engineering, fight in Vietnam, work for NASA and train the first Japanese Astronauts among others, and retired to become a bestselling author. His book Rocket Boys, a memoir, was adopted into a highly acclaimed motion picture, October Sky. So not only was he a successful man, his life story was made into a motion picture that many people saw, especially at schools where it was shown both in science classes to “inspire” other kids alongside mandatory Bill Nye watching sessions, or on class movie nights when the teachers were killing time to make up for the fact there was nothing to do that day.

Homer Hickam is the opposite of Naomi in a lot of ways. While I’ll give Naomi credit in the sense that at least they studied for something STEM related instead of gender studies, I also got told that Naomi started studying this before deciding to be a true and honest transwoman, and I’ve noticed that with a lot of tech types who transitioned they chose it after they chose to go down the tech path, so interpret that how you will. At least they weren’t working at Starbucks ebegging online, but then again with just a fragment of their 11.7k tweets it’s hard to draw a clear picture, it’s like trying to analyze a plane crash when one or both of the black boxes are gone.

So now we have our two people involved in this twitter exchange profiled. A 21 year old transgender millennial who chose a promising career path at least and is otherwise indistinguishable from everyone else like them online and a 75 year old bestselling author, former NASA employee, and Vietnam vet who had a movie made about his early life years. One of them has lived a long year and has seen some shit, one of them has pre locked in some of their life choices at the age of 21 and has the “I can do what I want I’m 21” mindset. I think we all know how this is going to go down.

The interaction

So Naomi, understandably excited about getting a NASA internship even if it was just a diversity hire (gotta remember, NASA ticks those boxes off too you know), decides to express it in the most millennial manner possible by saying “SHUT THE FUCK UP I GOT A NASA internship”. So Homer, likely searching for NASA tweets on another day finds this tweet and simply responds with one word, “Language”. He’s been in NASA before; he knows exactly what it’s like there, and what is considered acceptable behavior, and acting like Dr. Lexus from Idiocracy sure isn’t a way to get into NASA.

So there are a million ways Naomi could have handled this, but Naomi instantly sees the profile picture likely not knowing who it was, and it registers in their brain. “Ugh another old white male telling ME what to do it’s 2018 I’m 21 I can do whatever the hell I want UGH” was likely their thought process as they fired off another tweet at them. After all, in the economy of privilege, cis white males are at the very bottom and older ones are seen as slaveowners who fucked up the country. So they respond with “Suck my dick and balls I’m working at NASA”, like the internship was the highlight of their life and a tool to use to gain leverage in arguments. Homer then absolutely annihilates them by telling them that they’re on the National Space Council that oversees NASA. After Naomi’s followers decide to jump in and attack Homer, he blocks them and deletes his tweets, realizing he doesn’t want to get involved in internet fights but the damage was done.

Now, Homer later clarified that the reasoning behind his tweets was to warn them about the fact that it was very unprofessional looking to tweet that as someone representing NASA and it turns out he was right. This wasn’t some old 5 year old tweet of Naomi being an edgelord or supporting the wrong brand of politics, this was a very recent conversation. Someone at NASA later found the tweets thanks to their friends using the #NASA hashtag and canned their internship; leading to Naomi locking their Twitter account. Despite this, the damage was already done.

Just like that, Naomi completely fucked up, all it took was one tweet about wanting Homer to suck on their feminine penis and balls and they lost that internship. That internship that would have looked great on a resume and gotten them more jobs than simply flipping burgers or delivering Amazon packages, all wasted thanks to four tweets. There were some snowflakes attacking Homer for being too brutal on this person or accusing him of getting Naomi fired, leading to him making the blog post debunking that theory.

If it wasn’t for Homer and Naomi talking to each other behind the scenes and settling it, with Homer helping get their black mark removed from the record and referring them to aerospace jobs that in his words “will be better than (the internship) she lost”, Naomi would have completely fucked up and had been blacklisted from the industry. And honestly, I don’t blame them since the last person I’d want working for a company where design flaws and problems can mean lost profits at best and plane crashes with hundreds of deaths at worst is some nutcase online.

The mistakes and how you can learn from them

Here’s the thing though. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are a man, a woman, or on hormones with mutilated genitals. While Naomi’s background explains some of their behavior (which is why I mentioned it earlier in this post), it in no way justifies it and doesn’t explain people of different backgrounds making the same dumb mistakes. The minute you go on social media and do anything, it becomes your personal “brand”. This is who the entire world will see you as, regardless of who you are behind the computer monitor. It’s why people can go from living in mom’s basement to worthless social media star, all because of what they post online. It can also be your undoing, since one stupid tweet can bring you down and especially if it starts people digging. I’ve seen people get fired for years old posts, and this has become a common sport online nowadays.

If you’re dumb enough to associate yourself with where you work, you’re going to have problems. Lately the method of choice for those angry at posts online has gone from simply clicking the report button to full on trying to get them fired based on real life information. While Naomi didn’t appear to have their real name in their bio, judging by their thousands of tweets one of them may very well have had it, along with another tweet giving away their location, another tweet giving away their life story, and whatnot.

But the dumbest thing Naomi did was post where they worked. Their employer stumbled upon it and saw their posts, and the next thing you know they ended up fired. People love to post where they work on social media to get “industry cred” (oftentimes tacking on a disclaimer saying that tweets do not represent their employer), but when dumb tweets you make blow up in your face like idiots shooting off fireworks while drunk, it doesn’t matter. People are sloppy as hell with opsec nowadays thanks to the internet encouraging you to post every detail about your life out in the open, and this leads to situations like this.

Furthermore, Naomi decided to act like a teenager this whole exchange. They decided to act like a 15 year old defying their parents by cussing on Xbox Live loudly. Chances are, if they know what’s best for them they won’t even dare touch social media again, knowing that anything stupid they do will get them fired, and that’s being optimistic considering how addicted to social media people are nowadays. And who knows, maybe they’ll get fired again and we would never hear about it since judging by their behavior they seem like the type who’d throw a tantrum one day over personal drama, but that’s just another shot in the dark going by patterns of other people like Naomi online. After all, Naomi’s social media profile had “broke angry starbucks employee” written all over it. If Naomi wasn’t bailed out by Homer, Naomi’s future would have been the same one every other millennial has to ugh struggle with:

But either way, there are some valuable lessons to learn here from this whole interaction.

The TL;dr

  • Social media is your “brand”, and what you say affects how others view you. Think before you tweet.
  • Clear out your old social media accounts too, especially since old tweets can get you fired/turned down for a job.
  • Don’t act like a spastic online, especially towards those with influence.
  • Never ever post where you work on social media, ever.
Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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