Everything you write online (email, blog, twitter, text) can and will get anywhere else in an instant. This isn’t news, but ask yourself: do I write EVERY email/blog/tweet assuming that the people who are closest to this can and probably will read and share what I’m writing?
This isn’t just about search and the fact that web pages from 2002 still exist. And it isn’t only about whether your party photos on Facebook might get in the way of the job you hope to get a decade from now (though that matters a lot). It’s really about the power of tribes to amplify any idea and get that idea/thought/reflection in the right hands in an instant.
The most velocity is in tight networks where the word gets out silently and before you know it.
So why not assume that the people who know and care the most are reading everything you write, and there won’t be any surprises down the line? The upshot is that this isn’t just risk avoidance; it forces you to think big and imagine you have exactly the audience you dream of — because you just might.
This is as much about awareness as it is about discipline each and every time you write.
(and no, I didn’t have something fall into the wrong hands. But a few things in the last few days got into the right hands very very quickly, and man was I happy that I was conscious about each and every word I wrote.)