Trash-Talking Intelligently, Or Not At All

Or to put it simply — do not talk trash about anyone, whether you know them or not, on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, because your words WILL comeback to bite you. Here is a real life example. I am a member of the Board of Directors of a newly formed non-profit, called the Franklin Foundation.


Or to put it simply — do not talk trash about anyone, whether you know them or not, on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, because your words WILL comeback to bite you.

Here is a real life example. I am a member of the Board of Directors of a newly formed non-profit, called the Franklin Foundation. The foundation’s purpose is to help increase the quality of science and technology education and improve innovation of the American industry. I agreed to contribute to this non-profit because I believed in its goals. I also knew how many doors can be opened by networking within this type of organization and how one’s resume greatly benefits from adding “Member of the Board of Directors” title to it.

The foundation was looking to find a few more highly qualified board members. To help facilitate that process, I posted an interview with the foundation’s founder, on my MVP Blog and titled the blog post: “America’s technology education is suffering and innovation is dying: What you can do about it.” The post profiled the Franklin Foundation and described how one could apply to become a member of this respectful non-profit organization. I offered my blog readers a chance to greatly beef up their resume (whether or not they were employed at the time) and help build some great professional relationships with relatively little effort. With the average unemployment rates still hovering around 10 percent, who wouldn’t jump at that chance?

Boy, was I in for a rude (literally) awakening. After posting the interview on my blog, I put up a discussion with the same title as the blog post on some of my Linkedin (an on-line professional networking site) groups, with the hopes that members of those groups would see the discussion thread, listen to the interview and apply for the membership position.

The Board would get new members and a few great engineers or scientists would greatly increase their professional value. It seemed like a win-win situation. Apparently not to everyone. One of the groups was a certain association of scientists. For a number of reasons, the title of the blog post and my Linkedin discussion enraged the members of that group. People were extremely offended.

One response read: “How could you possibly have the nerve to write that America’s technology is suffering?! There are not enough science jobs and too many scientists! We need to stop the production of scientists in this country!”

“That’s right!!” screamed another offended group member. “I have been unemployed for two years! Do your research! I would not recommend anyone to go into science today!”

The discussion snowballed into some sort of madness… Before I knew it, there were about 50 responses screaming from my computer screen about how I am so, incredibly wrong they are SOOO right (although I could not quite understand about what)! The authors of numerous responses to that discussion did not hesitate to tell me (and to the entire group comprised of 5,814 members, as of this writing) that they have been unemployed for many years and still can not find a job!

Here is a direct quote from one of the responses: “EXCUSE ME??? Speaking as one of the numerous unemployed PhD chemists, I will tell you that you are 200 percent wrong in your opening statement. Are you deliberately claiming this, or are you just misinformed?”

Things just snowballed from there. “Innovation is dying??!” people screamed via the World Wide Web, “We need to stop giving away our jobs to China! What is wrong with all of you?!”

After watching aghast as angry response, after angry response popped-up on my screen, I figured it was time to interject.

“I apologize if this topic has offended you…” I typed, “...but, did you actually listen to the interview?”

“Well, no...” a few of the angry authors admitted.

Putting aside the relevance of whether or not the title of my discussion was actually “incorrect,” let me highlight the impact that each of those angry, uncontrolled, poorly written (yap, most authors did not spell-check) responses had on its respectful owner. That entire discussion can be viewed by over 5,800 members of that specific Linkedin group. The group includes scientists, project managers, HR people of scientific departments in universities, and hiring managers in prominent companies.

Each response to my discussion topic included a link to the profile of its author — we’re talking full name, previous employment, professional background, etc. Let’s just imagine for the moment, that you are a hiring manager for a large chemical company, looking for a few great scientists to hire. Every once in a while, you like to browse through various Linkedin group discussions, to see if a particular scientist tends to post especially valuable and informed comments. It is easy enough for you to go to that person’s Linkedin page, take a look at their profile, and possibly consider them for your job opening.

One day, you, the hiring manager, come upon a particularly interesting discussion. You start glancing through the discussion thread and notice a number of insulting, unprofessional, poorly written, uninspiring responses. You also notice that the authors of these responses are screaming into the universe that no one wants to hire them and has not wanted to hire them for the last two years.

Here is the million dollar question — would you have any inclination to consider the authors of such posts for the job openings? How about if you realized that their resume is currently sitting on your desk? How tempted would you be to just toss it out?


You would think that a logical person, looking for a job, would go through this type of thought process before posting ANYTHING on the web. Yet, the slandering responses to my discussion thread resumed. Once I no longer tried to calm down the situation, the authors turned on each other! These are some of the exact responses from three different authors. Read these through the eyes of a hiring manager:

“Things are starting to pick up, but from what I've seen, I wouldn't risk MY reputation recommending you for a janitor's position.”

“…Do you really enjoy proving to the world just how wrong you are every time you post?”

“You're closed minded to the fact that your "ideas" are worthless.”

Oye veh. Did I mention that these people are looking for jobs?!

When you put something on your Facebook profile, Twitter or Linkedin, you are projecting an image to the entire world. So next time you are getting ready to update your electronic profile, remember that you are presenting yourself to people who are in a position to hire (or fire) you, one electronic update at a time.

Masha V. Petrova holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering is a founder and CEO of MVP Modeling Solutions. Her weekly blog on a variety of engineering topics, can be found on Her blog on Increasing Your Professional Value can be found on