“Don’t be dumb!” My dad would sling that doozy at me a lot when I was a kid. I was staring at a jug of coolant being carried around by a lug covered in muscles, moving from one workout to another inside the gym, when my dad’s words of wisdom shot into my head. An incident had occurred earlier that day and somehow this jug of red workout juice was forcing me to think about it.
Back in 2008 I had been dumb once again, this time in my professional adult life. A colleague recently reminded me of this when I was trying to connect with him on LinkedIn. He kindly accepted my advances to connect, but not without reminding me of an embarrassing exchange of words, forever captured in the forum section of a rather popular sports photography website. Until the other day, I had selectively forgotten about my dumb remarks.
I used to shoot pictures for a large picture agency. Over the summer of 2008, some of my invoices started to become extremely past due. The people who handled the invoice process kept dropping the ball. When I tried to discuss the issue, they would blow me off. This made me feel of minor importance to them, which is ironic considering how much they rely on their freelance base for content.
At that time, I was fresh off a layoff in an industry that had (and apparently still has) a heavy case of the flu (metaphorically speaking). A lot of the other newspapers were laying Photographers off as well, thus, I was freaked out about my future. Money was tight and I needed to pay my bills.
I posted a query on this popular sports photography website, asking if other freelance photographers had received the same treatment from this company. The feedback started to get heated, in my favor. I got caught up in the online mayhem and started to type inappropriate comments. That’s when the momentum changed direction. Comments like “I smell a bridge burning!” started to appear. This combined with all kinds of professionals reprimanding me for my choice of words. My initial point was fair, however, the direction I took it in was a total idiot move.
“Embarrassing” is the word that completely describes how I felt when I re-read this old forum. I know I burnt a bridge with this company due to my words. Who knows how many other jobs I missed out on, due to the way I handled myself.
The message of this tale my friends is think about what you type, think about it some more and then one more time for good measure. Carelessness can live on forever in the Internet, causing embarrassing items to pop up and haunt you. Think before you hit “send.”