A Word To The Wise

The first thing I will say is that I have thought long and hard about posting this.

This is not intended to be a lecture.

In about ten months there will be a General Election in this country. I think it would be safe to say that the vast majority of public sector workers are pretty unhappy with the way things have gone in the last four years.

Whether it be budget cuts which are beginning to bite and which are making everything less easy to do or whether it be the personal cost – pay, pensions, terms and conditions – whether you are a police officer, fire-fighter, teacher, doctor, nurse or paramedic or indeed anyone who works to support these services, chances are you will feel worse off professionally and financially.

We can expect much to be said by incumbent and prospective governments in the coming months and, I suspect, much of it will cause anger.

The incumbent government will want to tell the country that their policies are working. The prospective government will want to tell the country that they are not.

This is probably the first election to take place since social media has really kicked off.

In the months after the last election the use of social media got a lot of people into a lot of trouble.

There are now more people using it than ever before and many of these are now tweeting from official accounts.

Over the last few weeks and months I cannot be alone in noticing a crescendo in the rhetoric on Twitter speaking out against various government policies and pronouncements. Some of this has come from places I really would not have expected.

I have read it – I may even have retweeted some of it but I try to be careful.

Even those of us who are “anonymous” are not truly anonymous (except Gadget maybe.)

My real identity is well known within policing circles. That has been a choice of mine over time. I very aware of this and do all I can to remain professional and true to the values I strive to uphold in my life and my work.

I don’t profess to get it right all or any of the time but I have enough friends on here who would pull me up if I got it wrong. We have seen that even the biggest names on Twitter have ended up in considerable grief over a perceived errant tweet.

I just want to get in an early word of warning, folks. There is no need to shy away from debate and discussion but I have recently been seeing a few tweets which could potentially land people in trouble. Far be it from me to lecture anyone on how to use social media but I would hate to see anyone fall foul of the new Code of Ethics or existing discipline regs.

The coming 10 months is a potentially dangerous time for social media users.

Over the last few weeks alone I have composed tweets, thought better of it and erased them before sending them. I am trying to find a balance where I can challenge things in a professional way – even though I am only ever representing myself on here.

This is nothing more than an advisory message to my friends. All of you.

There is a debate and discussion to be had – sometimes we are not the ones best places to have it.

There is a debate and discussion to be had – sometimes social media is not the place to hold it.

There is a debate and discussion to be had – play the ball not the man and don’t be afraid to walk off the pitch.

There is a debate and discussion to be had – but our jobs are important, precious and it is too easy to lose them by getting it wrong.

Above all – think before you tweet.

These are challenging times – it’s getting a bit hairy out there and on here.

Stay safe, friends.

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2 responses to “A Word To The Wise”

  1. Martyn Hordern says :

    Well written and whilst not anonymous I do understand the concerns of those that tread a more difficult path. On many occassions I have stopped sending a tweet for fear of it being misunderstood. However debate should never be misinterpreted as dissent and free speech is an important part of our democracy within the many constraints public service workers operate under.

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