The online universe breeds this very phenomenon in those who are otherwise kind and diplomatic in face-to-face settings. Perhaps it’s the relative anonymity of the internet, or the nature of the medium encourages it, or they feel safe to cast off the social constructs that stifle their true feelings but, whatever the reason, civility is in diminishing supply. If you are one of those “tell it like it is” types who take a scorched earth approach to expressing your opinion, that is your prerogative. Just be aware that, if you are known or advertise yourself as law enforcement, you will come to represent the whole of the occupation to those subject to your “brutal honesty.” And if you reveal where you work, you will be representing your coworkers and agency; at that point your off-duty words become very much their business, like it or not.
Solution: Practice tact. Care for your reputation. Keep the honest but drop the brutality.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember, and what all of the possible pitfalls described above lead back to, is to avoid shortsightedness. Online media, for all its wonder and exciting potential, breeds a peculiar form of digital attention deficit disorder in each of us – we click, type, post, and move on with little reflection on the possible long-term consequences of what we just did. And we mostly get away with it.
Until we don’t.
Stay safe, online and off!