There has been much talk (online and off) about how Kayne West created a scene at the Video Music Awards recently. Apparently, Kayne stormed the stage when Taylor Swift was accepting her award for video of the year, grabbed the microphone and announced that he thought Beyonce should have won the award.
Then, ABC news reporter Terry Moran tweeted that, during an interview with his network, President Obama called Kayne a “jackass” for his outburst. Turns out, the part where (allegedly) Obama called Kayne a “jackass” was off the record. ABC quickly pulled the tweet down, but not before it had been picked up by Politico.com.
Now, I personally like that President Obama has his own personal opinions and is human enough to say things like this out loud. He uses words like stupid and jackass and that’s pretty real. Maybe too real for the office he holds, but he is bringing an element of a real person to the position. (That’s a whole different blog post, but, in my opinion, Obama brings authenticity to his role and sometimes that gets him in trouble.)
This brings home the message that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OFF THE RECORD. There really never was and now, with the use of social media, there is almost no hope of something not being put out there if it is in the least bit interesting – or said by a high profile individual.
People are on Twitter, they have video cameras in their cell phones. Heck, this incident with President Obama was an error by a reporter jumping the gun. I don’t think ABC tried to “get” the President by putting out this information, and it will be interesting to see what the fallout from this is.
The world is more complex than ever; instant communication means that you have to be aware of what you say and how it is perceived. The fact is, we all say things that could be misinterpreted, misunderstood or that are just plain thoughtless. We need to think before we speak. Keep in mind that it isn’t just social media that can put you at risk. It is always interesting to see emails that are sent out with confidential or sometimes damaging information in them. People forward them without thinking about the thread below. Phone calls are another thing – you can forward phone messages. And people say things in conference calls, in meetings, and even to reporters that should not be said.
There is no off the record.
Before you say it out loud to anyone or write it in an email, think about whether you would feel comfortable with that statement being on the front page of your daily newspapers, or quoted on blogs, on Twitter or covered on the six o’clock news. Could you support it? Would you have to defend it? Is that how you want to be perceived? Is that who you are? Is that who you want to be?