Do you regret posting anything online?

imageYou know that awful moment when you’ve just clicked the mouse and fervently wish you hadn’t?

You’ve sent that email using the reply all function in Outlook and you’ve now sent your petty complaint to the entire office, or worse, the entire company.

You’ve published your blog post before you had all the information and you just know that someone is going to correct you for your error.

Perhaps you’ve posted an update on Facebook or Twitter.  You thought your update was full of pathos. You thought it was witty,  it was cutting.  it was ‘clever’.  And as soon as you hit send, you suddenly realise that perhaps the rest of the world probably doesn’t think the same way as you do. At all.

In an instant, your good humour has gone.

It’s an AWFUL feeling.  It’s that ‘Aargh’ moment.  You’re in agony as you realise that you really shouldn’t have posted it at all!  What’s worse, the agony of the Aargh moment keeps on revisiting you as you try to repair the damage and try to recover your reputation.

Most of us have posted something online that we’ve regretted.  Lots of us have emailed people that we shouldn’t have and then tried to retrieve the email and restore our dignity.  Some of us have posted status updates or pictures that have been, quite frankly, unsuitable for publication online.  Some of your updates might have been sent in the heat of the moment.  You might have hit send because you’re angry, you’re in a hurry, or you’ve even been careless due to a surfeit of alcohol.  Heaven forbid that you’ve been drinking when you’re online eh?

Fortunately, you’re not alone.  I saw this post on the Retrevo blog which has done a study which focuses on how how people use their gadgets.  Here are a couple of callouts from the results of the study:

54% of under 25year olds have posted something online that they regret.  32% of over 25’s have regretted posting

3% of those reported that it ruined their marriage or relationships and 6% had problems at work due to the post

51% of iPhone users have regretted posting something online – Damn You Autocorrect is full of examples of iPhone howlers.  Only 19% of non Smartphone users report doing the same

And according to Retrevo, we don’t appear to have learned from our previous mistakes. Will we ever learn?  Fortunately, the the study did highlight that technology now allows us to correct our mistakes more quickly than we were able to the past which is a small consolation for those of us suffering the agonies of remorse.

Getting rid of these Aargh moments is easy to fix in some of our transmissions.   You can delay sending your email by using the Rules Wizard which keeps your message in your Outbox for a specified amount of time.  If you use Outlook in a corporate or hosted Exchange environment, I’d strongly recommend that you set a default delay on sending all emails.  It’s a really sensible thing to do and it can get you out of tricky situations.  Even placing a 10 minute delay on sending the email will allow you to retrieve the mail from your Outbox, make corrections to the message, or change the recipient list.   You might not have meant to hit the ‘Reply All’ icon in your haste to send the message.

There are step by step instructions for Outlook 2003 from the Office web site  to walk you through the steps to set a rule.  You can apply it to just one message or to all outgoing mails.  A delay of 10 minutes should be just long enough to allow you to calm down and think about what you’ve just sent.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same thing on Facebook and Twitter? It might save us a whole lot of embarrassment…

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


2 thoughts on “Do you regret posting anything online?

  1. Pingback: 10 career limiting moves « Eileen's Social Technology blog

  2. Pingback: The email charter: Your rules for email management « Eileen's Social Technology blog

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