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Better Safe Than Sorry: Think Before You Tweet

Better Safe Than Sorry: Think Before You Tweet
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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Living in Dubai is like living in a village. This Emirate may look like a huge city, but there are often only two or less degrees of separation between everyone here- for me, it’s one degree, in most cases. How is that possible? Shouldn’t there be at least five degrees of separation (as we all have with Kevin Bacon)? Well, if you are on social media, it is easy to connect with a mixture of people in this town. Social media is huge here, and everyone is connected to someone on one of the platforms, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

In addition, if you are an entrepreneur like me, you attend various networking events on a monthly basis, where you meet people you either know in real life or from social media. There are always new people to meet at these events. You start talking and realize during the chat that you know the same people either from Dubai, or sometimes even globally. If we don’t seem to have connections whilst talking, I usually find that they are connected to several people I know on LinkedIn (when I add them post-networking).

So, why am I talking about Dubai being like a village, where a lot of you will often have just one degree of separation from everyone else? Because I’ve found that people here tend to forget about this particular premise, especially when networking or on social media, and provide strangers with their personal details or gossip about other people. They seem to think that there will be no repercussions for providing too much information. I’ll give you an example. On a Facebook group for businesswomen, a lady asked for help with growing her business. Without going into the details of the post, she wrote a few posts on her personal life, including information most of the followers on the group didn’t know about, but I know that a lot of people knew who she was referring to in her post. By revealing her personal life, she demonstrated that she didn’t know (or didn’t care) that Dubai was like a village, she lost trust among her peers, and most importantly, she lost her credibility as well. Her product is awesome, but now I would never recommend her to my clients, friends, and followers on social media due to the content of her posts, and also due to the fact that she decided to post such personal information to strangers.

I could share my views on this person to my close friends, who may then pass it on to other people. Within a short space of time, she would then be known not for her great product, but for her indiscretions on social media. I was fortunate to join the social media world when many of its platforms were just starting out, and so I could make mistakes, be more open even, but that’s something you just can’t do now! You must be careful about what you write on these platforms. You can’t have Twitter fights like in the good old days (I had some epic, awesome ones in the past)- you must now remember that such posts will be seen by potential customers, employers, or friends, with this being the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The same rule applies when meeting people in real life. You cannot talk about people to strangers without thinking there will be repercussions. In all likelihood, the listener will either know who you are talking about, or knows someone who knows them. If you say something negative about this person, it will come back to them, and this could be detrimental to your life here in a way that you did not envisage when you started talking.

Now, I’m no angel. I have made mistakes and made enemies in this village. I have a low tolerance for nonsense, and so I will be quite blunt with people online or offline if they are being intolerable. I am known in the village as being frank and quite blunt, but I know my limit. Over time, I have created a filter to ensure I don’t get myself into trouble for my comments and retorts to intolerable people.

I also have a trusted network of people I can talk to about the village. Unfortunately, a lot of people have either not learnt the art of diplomacy and restraint, or think they are immune to it. Here’s the ugly truth: you are not immune in a village like this. Before you write something on social media, or talk too much in this village, think about who will be the recipient, and the potential people with whom they could share your details. Do you really want everyone to know your business?

Related Article: The Social Media Handbook: Five Tips For Entrepreneurs Looking To Leverage The Internet

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