We're angry at the wrong part of the Lindsey Stone story

By now, we’ve all heard of Lindsey Stone, the rocket scientist who decided to in her words “be a douchebag” and post a photo of her disrespecting Arlington National Cemetery, our Armed Forces, and anyone who’s ever fought for freedom.

It’s interesting – Everyone is angry at her (and rightfully so) for being disrespectful – no doubt. But I think there’s a bigger story here. If I were her boss, I’d be angry at myself for hiring her – Not because she did something this stupid, but because she didn’t have the basic foresight to know that this was going to blow up in her face.

In our effort to immediately post everything we do online, more and more we’re bypassing common sense. And that will hurt us. To me, it’s no longer about the act the person did, but rather, the fact they didn’t think, for one second, that this would come back to bite them in the ass.

Facebook is creating a nation of no-impulse-control. “I have to get it online!” has replaced “let me think about this for a second” as our mantra. And that will hurt us.

Let’s face it – The first rule today simply HAS to be – “When this gets out, will it cause me trouble?” More often than not, the answer is “yes.” Lindsey Stone should have known this. It’s basic common sense. We’re supposed to learn about our actions having consequences when we’re younger – And now, more than ever, with instant worldwide communication, there is no ability to think about it later and remove it. Once it’s there, it’s there. This isn’t the first time this month we’ve heard about this – It happened just a few weeks ago, and a few weeks before that… The stories don’t live very long in the real world, but they do online. And they do forever. Just ask Kevin Colvin. Or Darren Sherman.

I guarantee you that employers are now more than ever, looking for critical thinking skills in their employees. The skills that say “I know the consequences that this might have down the road.” They’re looking for employees who play Chess, and have the ability to think six moves ahead.

So the next time a Lindsey Stone pops up, don’t waste too much time being angry at her – Rather, pass it around the office and make sure your employees know that sometimes, it’s not the action itself, but the resulting actions that can get you in a world of hurt.

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