Ask Marvin

I was caught on social media doing something silly. How do I stop it destroying my career?

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On a night out recently I had too many drinks and ended up making a fool of myself. Unfortunately a colleague was videoing me and is now threatening to share it across social media. I am a very important and sensible senior manager. How can I come out of this with my reputation intact?


Marvin’s Answer: MS, don’t despair. Well, actually that’s not true as it depends on what you were doing (you don’t say). Social media can be a dangerous thing for middle aged men.

Anyway, in my experience such indiscretions come in different levels. Drunken singing for example is a lowly level 1 and can endear you to people who thought you were a talent-less, boring, fool. Yes, it’s not something you might want your boss to experience, but who can resist the thigh slapping, red cheeked, cheery middle aged bloke in a good mood (as long as you’re slapping your own thighs).

Obviously from that level things can get more difficult. Dad dancing? Level 2. That means it’s fine if it’s with others (of the same sex) and in an appropriate place (not the street or restaurant). If it’s not fine, then yes, you’re beginning to get on more dodgy ground which is where level 3 comes in.

Social media can be a good way of being embarrassed
Try not to embarrass yourself on social media

Paying a colleague too much attention when they’re plainly not interested, bored or embarrassed is a big no no. That’s level 3. Vomiting in public? Level 3. Any form of undressing? Level 3 or beyond depending on your physique. A sorry fat bloke dancing in budgie smugglers could make you a social media star.

3 options to avoid social media hell

So, depending on the level of your indiscretion you have three options:

  1. Laugh and use it as a way to show what fun you are.
  2. Put it down to someone spiking your drinks, and say you’ll use it on some self-improvement course as a means of showing your self-awareness and learning.
  3. Get on your knees and beg the person who recorded it not to share it on social media, but obviously that opens you to all sorts of blackmail.

The worst that can happen is that you become the laughing stock of the office and potentially get fired. If I were you, and your indiscretion was above level 1, I would consider begging for restraint from whoever recorded it.

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