Life in the olden days was so simple; when you said something, you could look around the room and realize in total who heard you, and from knowing those present, know who would likely get access to the information.
Not so with our incessant, always-on and unfiltered global reality of e-mail, blogs, Twitter, etc. I'm glad I'm not this guy.
I learned the hard way myself; I posted material to my personal blog was was more about my own inner turmoil and frustration, but I'd transferred it to my job at the time. (Truth be told the job and the people there, while not without issues, were wonderful.) I'd just left that position to go back to school full time. I had no idea my boss read my blog, or would even have any desire to read my blog.
What was I thinking? I wasn't... that was the problem.
My boss did indeed read my blog, and he read a post that, in hindsight, was mortifying. It was wrong of me to have even said it, doubly so to have written it... and just plain stupid to have not restricted it to friends but to allow it to be public!
(After sharing my elation as to having quit, I think I described the job as having smothered my soul. Reality is that the issue was not the job, but rather my own fear of switching directions. My factory programming told me to stay where I was, don't think about jumping tracks or trying something new even if the potential benefits were many. It was still a "risk" and therefore bad bad bad. It was my inability to confront that programming and to make the change that left me frustrated and dissatisfied, limited and tortured.)
He printed it out and gave it to the director, who understandably took it very personally. When I stopped by to visit not long afterward, she and I had a pleasant chat... and then she pulled a printout of the post out and asked me about it. I was mortified. Reality hit me hard: how immature I was being in handling my frustration, how textbook I was being in displacing that frustration into something else, and amazed at how stupid I could have been to, in effect, get on a soapbox and shout what I'd said from the top of my lungs and not expect anyone to hear/know/care.
(In hindsight, it was the inpetus for a very important element of personal growth: I changed not only how I looked at things, but what I chose to share about things as well. Once known as someone who loved to bitch and moan, I became much more oriented in identifying problems and finding solutions, and leaving everything else aside. Yes, I still kevetch now and then, but it's done in a different form.)
We talked about it, I did my best to explain, and we parted with a hug--but after that the connection went dead cold, and the bridge was clearly burned.
This was a group and a woman with whom when I'd tenured my resignation, there were tears and promises of, "If you ever need anything, anything... just call. You can come back anytime!" But that was before the post. A lack of strong connection with anyone there at the office outside of work meant the caustic damage had been done before I'd even known about the problem. I'm sure my name is mud there, or worse yet, I'm always referred to as "Remember the woman who..."
This woman had shared openly how she had made incredibly public, dire blunders before, and how she had overcome them. I only hope she recalled these moments as one of my own played out!