It can’t be said enough, and I’ve written a couple of editorials on the subject: Never post anything on a blog or send a tweet or email that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of a newspaper some time in the future. Even in the far future.
As recent University of Washington graduate Kathlyn Ehl is discovering, that stuff can come back to haunt you – and maybe even end a budding career. This is a potentially big problem, especially for young people, who seem not to have many inhibitions about what they put online.
Ehl lost her job Wednesday as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna after it was discovered that she had tweeted offensive comments about Asians and the elderly months ago when she was still a UW student. After graduating recently, she took a job with the McKenna campaign as a policy assistant. Her tweets were posted Monday on the website of The Stranger, a Seattle alternative newspaper.
Those tweets likely will follow her forever, hurting her chances for future employment in politics and perhaps in other fields as well. Many employers now routinely conduct online searches of job candidates. Unless Ehl changes her name, those searches will turn up articles about the controversy that led to her resignation. (I’m guessing that she would have been dismissed had she not resigned.)
In a statement, McKenna campaign manager Randy Pepple wrote:
“Life teaches us difficult lessons, and sometimes at a very young age. My hope is that she will find some benefit from having learned this lesson now, as it will undoubtedly be a long-lasting one.”
And hopefully her lesson won’t be lost on other young people, making them think twice about sending crude tweets or posting risqué photos.