The Dangers Of Tweeting

by Rio

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life



112 thoughts on “The Dangers Of Tweeting

  1. It is possible to set your Twitter feed to where it can only be seen by people who follow you, vs being visible to the whole world. I am not sure how she had her privacy set, but it seems that it must have been visible to many. I think so many people don’t realize that with their small number of followers that they have any potential for a problem like this. This example is one of the things that makes me very distrustful of social media. Her jokes were in poor taste, but I think the repercussions were pretty extreme.

  2. There was a story on NPR about this today…same people discussed (woman going to South Africa).

    On one hand, it’s the world we live in. As Rhett might say, deal with it as it is, not how we wish it might be. Do we want to go back to the days of e.g. politicians saying one thing to one group, then saying the opposite to another group sometime later and no real way to discern the “waffling”? (different topic: do voters really care all that much?)

    On the other, I think it’s the extremism of political correctness, and how, now, pretty much everyone, not just the CEO/Owner/person in the ad, is perceived as a public face of their employer and so must always mind their ps and qs whenever in public. Ya never know who is capturing your speech and actions on camera to be tweeted out later.

    Does the threat of public shaming like we have now **really** change behavior and eventually thought? Will these kinds of tweets and resulting public shaming become another same-old, same-old thing that no one pays attention to in a short time? Hell, IMO, most homicides don’t get enough/as much coverage as the events mentioned in the article. What gives with that?

  3. I don’t tweet and I barely use Facebook anymore. It’s either inane details about people’s lives or public shaming to the point where I would find it exhausting to be that offended all of the time. Her joke was offensive and dumb, but the angry lynch mob treatment is baffling to me. The other story of the poor guy who told a dumb joke and was then fired is ridiculous. If the woman was offended why not tell the guy or report it to HR? I find most people on social media to be completely narcissistic, so I just don’t participate.

  4. There was a picture circulating a couple weeks ago of a couple of tourist kids climbing on the statue of the Women Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in DC. Of course, scores of people were deeply offended and outraged and the parents were obviously the living embodiment of all parents who refuse to teach their children respect and values, and basically they were just evil.

    Everyone’s eager for their own chance to be offended.

  5. Off Topic – CoC – I sent you an email…

    On Topic – this doesn’t surprise me. And is the reason why I carefully post on both FB and Twitter. And I never post negative things about my job, family, or friends. If I do have something negative to say, I do my best to frame it as a “I don’t understand this behavior” topic. Or say how lucky I feel that that negative thing isn’t in my life’s journey.

    I have a very public job, and even though my FB account is set to private (as are all my postings), I’m friends with people I deal with professionally. The knowledge of their access to my profile keeps me in check. I keep my dark, gutter-level humor to my home, and texts with my husband.

    We live in a public world – we all need to be aware of that in how we talk, sit, eat, and move. It’s unfortunate that the “safe” places to release dark humor are dwindling, but what can you do?? Even on the Totebag we are not anonymous…

  6. I actually interpreted her joke to be satire on racism and ignorance rather than her actually believing that.

    Anyway, I think the most interesting part of the article is how quick we can be to demonize somebody and how easy in the digital world it is for someone’s life to be ruined this way.

    Cardinal Richelieu said it best- “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

  7. I think that we now live in a world of very few second chances – no tolerance policies in schools and in the work place. Granted, certain things may not deserve a second chance, but my fear is that we are creating a generation that is afraid to take risks or to move outside their comfort zone. When you do, you are more likely to make a mistake in judgment. Fear that anything you say or do will be photoed, videoed, or recoreded and/or spread on social media makes for living a very guarded life.

    I understand that a joke or a comment in bad taste shows that someone is not showing the best judgment. But, should one joke or comment in bad taste be a cause for termination? Is it appropriate to call people out publically for a mistake?

    From the article, I see the PR person sending out a tweet to all her followers as a bigger issue because one would think a PR person would be much more concious of her audience and environment and how her twitter account is an extension of her professional life. I can see an employer taking a strong action in this case – a clear exhibition of bad judgment could be about their organization next time. To the man that was accidently overheard, I think the woman’s reaction and the employer’s reaction was excessive. Tell the man you heard him and it was offensive, let him apologize and learn from the mistake and move on.

  8. Milo I saw that too and I felt so bad for the parents. There were a few comments along the lines of “my kids climb everything they can too, they’re just kids” but mostly it was a lynch mob.

    An old boss used to say “it was a greater sin to take offense than to give it”, and I always try to remember that.

  9. Milo/kids climbing statue

    I was totally one of those kids in a similar situation. My mom and dad lost many friends in a tragic accident, and there was a memorial fountain built to their memory in a park where we used to play. We used to swim and splash around in this fountain in hot weather, and my dad encouraged it. The victims of the tragedy died young, and he said nothing would have made them happier than to see children playing.

    Fortunately no one was around to be outraged.

  10. I agree with 11:05. If I were a PR person I would think very carefully about anything I posted! But the guy making the ridiculous joke should not have been fired for it, and the woman taking the photo shouldn’t have been fired for that either. Good grief!

    I definitely self-censor on FB since I have a few family members who are known gossip-mongers. :) I also have no overlap between my FB friends and the people I know at work.

  11. Justine Sacco, 30 years old and the senior director of corporate communications

    I think that puts a different spin on it. If she wanted to create a different persona for her snarky jokes, then fine. But, if she wants to make snarky jokes about AIDS, then maybe she shouldn’t use her own name as her twitter handle. My understanding is that in her role her twitter presence is part of her “brand” and should be treated as such.

  12. Can’t be careless – I agree, but I truly think that over time the bar will be lowered. There will come a time when a video of you throwing up or doing something else untoward will just be something that everyone has out there. Don’t know if that is good or not. I also agree that a PR professional should have been more cognizant of the potential ramifications of her words. I would fire her as a PR professional for that alone.

    Kids on the statue. Not cool. Had i been there I would have told them to get off. I don’t expect children to be perfect, but that’s what they have parents for – to help them learn. I see it all the time at the WWII memorial which has a sign asking people not to play or put their feet in the fountain and they still do. It is a sombre place of contemplation and rememberence not a playground – then again, I don’t let my kids run in the grocery or the mall as those are not playgrounds either.

  13. Um, not only are tweets public, but it is so easy to mine them that it is a common undergrad class project in computer science. Even my 9th grader could do it. You can look for all sorts of patterns

  14. What I don’t get is why the woman took the picture and publicized a joke she overhead. I think the man in posting to the Hacker forum knew what the response would be.
    Could he have sued the woman ? Interested in hearing what all our lawyers have to say.

  15. Yikes. Stupid, stupid thing for her to tweet, and she likely would’ve realized that after thinking about it for a while, and deleted it herself, had she had the chance. Huge price to pay for acting before thinking.

  16. Moxie – I don’t disagree re: the statue but there are not that many people out there anymore that would tell them to get off in person. Instead we post a picture of minors on the internet and let the public have at them.

  17. I had a formative deposition when I a brand new baby doctor (which is a whole other post in itself, let’s just say it ended as well as it could have and I learned to like the legal term “with prejudice”). This is likely unsurprising to all the lawyers here, but it was not at all what I expected. It was pre-social media.

    The attorney asked me such questions, “What did you have for breakfast on x day?” “How much sleep did you get the night before” “Oh, you don’t recall? How much sleep did you normally get during that month?” “Did you read the newspaper that day?” “Did you have a cold?” “What books were on your bookshelf at that time?”

    I can only imagine if I had some accessible tweets of facebook posts pointing out how tired, angry, hungry, annoyed that I was. Or that I hated my job, was trying to get home early for a party, was trying to get out of work, was scared/confused by my responsibilities.

    I still look at all of my Facebook posts through that prism — if I was sued over actions that I did today, would my Facebook status hurt my position? So, I end up posting a lot of kid pics, bragging, and sarcasm. (From last night: “There is nothing like talk radio to help me arrive home late at night, wide awake and pissed at the world”).

  18. All sorts of things sound strange out of context. Even here, where I’d think you all have *plenty* of context about my life, the strange trolls who like to attack me often seem to be missing out on key points, such that what they do know sounds really strange. I generally roll my eyes, consider filling them in on the rest of the story, then decide that it’s not worth explaining my life to some worthless jerk who likes to slam people s/he doesn’t know. Her explanation, that her intended target was the bubble in which first world live, makes total sense to me, especially given that her family critiques that relationship regularly. But Tweets are by definition context-free and must stand alone as 140 characters or less.

  19. MBT – from your post on yesterday’s topic: the wedding is tonight? So glad you mentioned. I’m going to watch w/ my DD too. Shall open some bubbly too, out of solidarity with you two. ;)

  20. Ada – I hadn’t considered that, but you are quite wise to be careful for that reason. You’d be skewered for posts about being tired, etc.

    (As for any future depos, do not say, “My patients look at me like I’m God because I *AM* God!” I think that was what Alec Baldwin’s character said in that movie w/ what’s-her-name who’s married to Keith Urban now. Baldwin was a doc and she and him conspired for her to sue him and his hospital to settle for millions with her. The second after he announced he was God, his lawyer looked at the plaintiff’s counsel and said, “How much do you want?” Or something like that.)

  21. My FB has a lot of people commenting on current political events, which I do as well, and witty people writing things like Ada gave an example of. I’m not very good at that. When I post personal things, I try to keep them somewhat universal (as opposed to “Katy made this mobile in school today. We just love her creativity” with photo). Some of my latest are:

    One last blast of Florida “winter”. The boy is even wearing long sleeves! (with a screenshot of the weather app when the temp was 47)

    A petition to move the NCAA tournament from Indiana.

    US allies in standing up against barbarism. (with a pic of dead bodies dangling from a steel girder, labeled “Beheaded bodies with their heads in plastic bags. ISIS–crossed out–Saudi Arabia–in red”)

    Off to a great start:

    I’m pretty sure that you guys know more about my kid than anyone on my FB. When I post things like a pic of him with the new flattop haircut, I always use the “friends” setting, but I now have people on there who I haven’t met, so I need to set up a “close friends” group. I figure that here, even though one could dig around and figure out who a lot of us are, there is at least the attempt made at setting up a different persona, apart from the day to day identity attached to our real names.

  22. It makes me wonder what the world would be missing if some of our historical heroes had been placed under the scrutiny of today. Thinking about things I read about media agreeing to keep private affairs of these folks private.

  23. The funniest thing I heard from my parents was one relatives parents who attended a funeral and were continuously sending their daughter in another country pictures and updates from the funeral. In my case relatives who post constantly on FB don’t realize (or perhaps they do) that people on the other side of the world are “attending” the event in real time because you are posting a live blog like stream of pictures. I am always aware of this aspect when I attend events with picture happy Facebookers.

  24. Stepping back from the simple personal relevance of this article, I’ve seen several interesting things recently that look at the societal issues that it brings up. The author touches on this briefly; I think it’s the most interesting part of the whole thing. This woman was fired for racism; the guy who made a crude joke at a conference lost his job too; a Florida teacher was disciplined for calling a student a “towelhead” and similar terms repeatedly; a couple of frat boys recently withdrew from OK university and their house was closed, and on and on. Those actions, posts supporting the “punishments” or comments condemning Sacco, the programmer, the SAEs, anti-Muslim bigotry and similar things on the basis of these actions make the commenter feel big, as if they were taking a major stance against racism, sexism in STEM professions, racism, and religious bigotry. But these are actually very small cases, simply examples of what is possible in our society as it is currently constructed. If you really want to make a difference against any of those social ills, you need to address the social structure and work for change at a much deeper level. These kinds of smoke screens allow people to blow off their “righteous anger” steam without really doing anything to change the conditions in which we all live.

  25. RMS, he got the big mop buzzed nearly a year ago. I thought we were growing curls back, with an agreement for him to comb them and me to find a hairdresser who was better at shaping the cut, but that wasn’t happening. He says he loves the flattop. He still refuses to do maintenance on it; I’ve decided to let it go for now and ask the barber to talk to him about how to pick it out and oil his scalp.

  26. I don’t have a Facebook account or a Twitter account for a lot of reasons, but one is that I just think it is too easy to come off as silly and self-obsessed, even when you are not. Not quite the same as having your life blown up a la the article, but I don’t want to have to worry about crafting my public persona at every moment. Part of it is my introversion–it just takes too much mental energy to be worth it to me.

  27. Thanks Ris! This will likely be the only alcohol associated with this event, so we felt like someone needed to step up!

  28. Another aside on electronic records and privacy — I work (among other places) at one of the big HMOs. One that is often cited nationally as having excellent integration of electronic records. Patients can easily email their physicians. I am sure that patients must sign something that says they understand that their emails are a part of their medical record, but I wonder how many truly understand what that means.

    When I go into a patient chart to gather information, interspersed between the various notes about visits are the emails exchanges. They are often quite chatty and personal – “Guess what! I am wearing a diamond ring now!” “I am so stressed out about Obamacare, it is putting people like me out of business.” “That orthopedic doctor was rude and I won’t ever go back to him.”

    I do not expect that patients think that the ER doctor is perusing these notes. To be honest, they are often of little use – and not salacious enough to be entertaining. However, I am often trying to put together a story of when something started, what has been tried, what the next steps planned are, and these may be contained in the emails.

    As a patient in the system, I would never email anything other than a very basic request or note. I don’t need the orthopedic physician who is treating my sprained ankle to know I was recently considering an abortion (as a random example).

  29. Atlanta – you are right. Someone should have just addressed the issue instead of posting the pictures although I think the ire was probably mostly aimed at the parents and I can see as someone who lives here that maybe someone is just so sick and tired of people coming and not being respectful of these national treasures that they chose to blow it up. Who knows.

    As for Facebook, I try to be funny. Rarely political. Today I posted about bringing my razor out of hibernation. The worst thing someone can do on FB in my opinion is be boring. I have a friend who NEVER posts and then decides to post “Radiator is broken. (frowney face)” And I’m like, really!? THAT is the only thing you have to share with us? I do try to be thoughtful and remember that if I pause to say to myself “is this: offensive, racist, xenophopic…..” it probably is or at least is something that I might want to share only with a very few people who “get” me – NOT on my FB page.

  30. To Ada’s point about the lawsuit and Facebook posts etc., one of the things that young lawyers quickly learn is that ANY email or electronic posting you write (the general you, not lawyers specifically) may one day end up being read by someone else unknown in the course of determining whether it needs to be produced in litigation. It’s eye-opening to have to wade through endless emails amongst co-workers regarding some random non-work related issue, personal conflicts, gossip, NSFW subjects, etc.

  31. Moxie, my drain has a look of fear in its eyes. I’m waiting until I go to the Y before I turn the weed-wacker loose.

    I hope this new Twittergate doesn’t turn into a storm like the ones described in the OP. I like this guy so far, would like to see him have a chance, and don’t find these particularly offensive (for example, the one on hitting a Jewish person when you’re driving a German car strikes me as being about a historical series of events and embarrassment at seeming to reinact, not against Jews.)

  32. Saac, Sarah Silverman has a very funny song about “Jewish people driving German cars” I wonder “how” jewish, black, female…. one has to be to make such jokes. Lena Dunham who is “only” half Jewish is getting some heat about her article.

  33. How is this funny or inoffensive? Tweet from Trevor Noah:

    “Originally when men proposed they went down on one knee so if the woman said no they were in the perfect uppercut position.”

  34. I’ll admit, I don’t like the Trevor Noah selection to replace Jon Stewart. I don’t think he’s funny. I hope to be proven wrong.

  35. Ris- vacay was great other than DS getting an ear infection. We went to the pedi the friday before our trip and they said he didn’t have an infection. He woke up a mess tuesday night.

  36. We saw pikes peak (most of it), NCAR in Boulder, Rocky Mountain Park (it is the centennial this year 1915-2015) Garden of the Gods, Olympic Training Center, had some local brew

  37. I don’t know, saac. I think if the joke had been something like “Walking my dog and the leash almost got tangled around this black kid’s neck, would’ve felt bad because I was wearing my white hoodie,” and the comedian were white, you and Comedy Central would have a different reaction.

  38. I agree totally with June here. I do not facebook and I don’t tweet. Period. I do make phone calls, however, and do e-mail and I’m very aware of the dangers inherent in the latter. With both the former and the latter, though, the MSA has them anyway which means that somebody else can get them. Sigh. But I don’t have to serve it up to everybody, and it’s not like anybody cares, anyway.

  39. I think some of the Trevor Noah stuff crosses the line, but I’m sick of outrage porn being the national pastime. Every single one of us has said something in our life that would make us look very very bad if it became public out of context. I love what Atlanta’s boss said.

  40. “young lawyers quickly learn is that ANY email or electronic posting you write (the general you, not lawyers specifically) may one day end up being read by someone else unknown in the course of determining whether it needs to be produced in litigation. It’s eye-opening to have to wade through endless emails amongst co-workers”

    THIS. Do you really need to e-mail your mistress via work e-mail? Nooooooo.

  41. LOL ATM. This is another reason why I keep work and personal separate. (Not that I have a mistress!)

  42. “Outrage porn”–good phrasing, Rio!

    Milo, I can agree that these Tweets were quickly tossed off without consideration of what a huge deal he would suddenly become, but I don’t see any inherent evil in them. On attempting to rewrite one as a joke about racism involving black people (which this guy has PLENTY of), I see what you’re doing, but you’re a little off there. Instead of wearing a white hoodie, the person would have had to somehow temporarily look white. I’m not sure how you’d do that. Hoodies, ever since Treyvon Martin was killed, have been used as a symbol of black and brown America, or solidarity with them. I am not good writing jokes, but I’m sure we can all think of instances when something has happened and we’ve been afraid that our responses made us look like something we weren’t. The closest I can come up with on the spot is looking carefully at someone’s hair to figure out if and how I could do it with my kid’s hair, then realizing the person sees me looking and quickly looking away, then realizing it might look like I’m being afraid of the black guy and looking back but then not being sure how long to look or whether to smile and then… just crumbling under a load of wondering if I look like a racist idiot or just like an idiot.

  43. “This is another reason why I keep work and personal separate.”

    I’ll email DW from my work email. If it someday were to come out in discovery what we were considering to give as Christmas gifts to our kids in 2014 , or that the driveway sealers are coming this week, or updates on our dear friend who died of brain cancer, so be it. Somehow I doubt my employer would hand me a pink slip over anything in my email.

    and my DSs, too. I think on balance those emails would make me look like a hall-of-fame parent. Again, not worried about public consequences if they were to be publicized.

    But I realize not everyone’s life is as boring as mine and also that not everyone is as careful as I am bout what I put out there.

  44. Saac – in my hypothetical, the comedian was white, so he already looks white. The hoodie was a fill-in for a white hooded robe, which is obviously a stretch, but no more so than imagining that a German car makes the driver look like an SS official.

    If he ever got the offer, it would be withdrawn immediately.

  45. Stand up comedians in their acts get away with saying a lot of things. It doesn’t come across the same way when written down. I remember thinking while watching Chris Rock – wow he really said that….not only him but also while watching lesser known acts in Comedy clubs.

  46. Fred – I think everyone uses work e-mail for personal stuff, but do so knowing that lots of other people may read it as well. If you’re OK with that, fine.

    E-mails like – “hey my wife is at her tennis lesson and the house cleaner is off this week, so come by at 2 for some lovin’ your stud, Mike.” And then picture Mike, your work colleague in accounting.
    Ewwwww. (Completely fabricated example inspired by real life.)

  47. Trevor Noah, in an 8 minute appearance at the Apollo.

    I laughed and laughed at this, mostly because I heard all kinds of things that my son has thought about. With Noah being the host, people will be shifted from using whiteness as the basis for humor to recognizing how the rest of the world might see things. He uses different voices and characterizations all the time.

    I can see that people might be offended at his mother saying “I want to love the white man” & his comment re his father “you know how the Swiss love chocolate” if that is the only part they hear, but I love all the voices and characters Noah does–I don’t see it as him making fun of and denigrating the whole world. I read it as bringing in a much bigger cast of characters and really recognizing diversity. There isn’t just one “black” or “German-speaking” character in this short routine–there are multiples, with real differences between them.

    I absolutely laughed at him as a child not being recognized as belonging to mother, because that certainly does happen!!

    I like his comments on being seen as different, why not double or twice as nice and filed them away to say to my kid if he ever gets to the point of feeling down about it.

    Him doing the voice of an American black person (not Eubonics) and then practicing how to sound black and urban is funny to me because ‘saac has really noticed these differences this year and experimented with them a little bit. Any black person of any level of accomplishment has to make these choices about register and audience all. the. time. I see these jokes as tying in with it.

    A black/white person looking Hispanic–certainly is a thing! Again, it’s something my kid has been trying to figure out how to handle.

    The premise of the whole thing, emphasized at the end, is that he wants to be “black”, a funny twist on reversing the way that black people are generally represented.

  48. have you read Rainbow Rowell’s book “Attachments”? It is about an IT guy whose job is to read the flagged emails.

    I assume any emails I send from work are being read by the company (not that they are, there is a possibility though)

    and any emails sent at all can be read by Big Brother

  49. A friend at work years back sent a resume to a competitor from his work email, before the days when free email was so prevalent. (He did it at night, logged in from home, but still on work email ) When he got in the next morning, his boss called him in and had the email and resume on his desk. That is how I came to fully comprehend that our employer does screen certain outgoing mail (and basically everything going to competitors).

  50. When he got in the next morning, his boss called him in and had the email and resume on his desk.

    A prudent man keeps tabs on the market for his skills – did the boss object?

  51. I assume that anyone writing on here on a work machine could have their comments brought up as much as any emails could be.

    Milo’s email piece and ATM’s fake email are funny. Much better pieces of humor than my attempt with the looking away and back thing.

    Milo, I didn’t get the hoodie/white sheet transfer. I think I’ve heard one of those long rambly jokes once which including a sheet falling on someone’s head, giving the impression of KKK affiliation, but of course I don’t remember it all.

    Louise, good point. I love Chris Rock, but think lots of white people are offended because he points out all kinds of race-related stuff that black people have always talked about because they have to figure out how to deal with it in their lives, whereas white people don’t talk about it or see it a polite topic, because it reminds them of uncomfortable things they don’t deal with and don’t have to think about.

  52. The boss was mostly like “WTF?!” He wasn’t in trouble, but security told the manager to address it. I think the main gist was don’t be such an idiot.

  53. Saac- reminds me of my childhood friend who was an Ethiopian immigrant and son of two doctors. He had quite a bit of fun messing around with others’ preconceptions about him. Though he was basically Sheldon Cooper so he was completely unpersuasive when trying to act “urban.”

  54. “Everyone’s eager for their own chance to be offended.”

    I had considered submitting a post on how so many things count as offensive these days, inspired by another online discussion asking ‘is the term “Jew” offensive?’ (Yes, sometimes it is, apparently. The term “Jewish” is safer to use than “Jew”.)

    I think I appreciate how some people are offended by actions or words that I think are merely funny or in poor taste. But, sheesh, it does seem to have gotten out of control. And often double standards seem to apply.

  55. While I am thinking about books, I went to a writer’s event in Indiana before my vacay. Everyone there (not literally) suggested reading Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It is a satire of Lord of the Flies with female beauty contestants on the island instead of a group of boys. I’m picking it up from the library next.

  56. I never read or comment on the Totebag on my work computer. I will surf other sites (such as Corporette) during beaks and very occasionally comment on them about innocuous topics, but in the back of my mind I always consider whether my employer would need an explanation for my visits to a given site. A site with the tagline “holier than though since 2012” requires some explanation. :) But admittedly I am surely overly cautious in this regard.

  57. CoC, I sure felt like I had egg on my face when my autocorrect changed “newish” to “Jewish” recently, especially since there was a complainy tone to my comment!

  58. “‘is the term “Jew” offensive?’ (Yes, sometimes it is, apparently. The term “Jewish” is safer to use than “Jew”.)’

    That’s because Jew is so definite and Jewish is more nebulous, right?. Substitute the word “ten” for “Jew”.

    Says he who was brought up Jewish…not a full Jew, I guess, just Jew-“ish”…and celebrated his bar mitzvah under parental duress and never came back to the flock after.

  59. I’m with Ada. I would hate to have someone come back one day and claim ineffective assistance of counsel because I was complaining on facebook. I don’t post much but the odd pictures of kids and sometimes political stuff that I’m fully comfortable owning. When I take pictures at events or on vacations, I generally wait to post them later so they aren’t detailing so much information about what I’m doing right this second.

    In some ways, the ubiquitous nature of this stuff makes some of it less relevant. Lots of teens will have pictures that are a bit too risque, or involving drugs or alcohol, etc., and at some point I don’t think that will matter to employers if it’s in your past. Bad judgment sticks longer. Some of the stories in that article are just horrifying, though, in that the response seems so outlandish and disproportionate. Those guys told a joke in bad taste. Lame, but not firing-worthy. Someone shared it when she probably should have said something more directly. Lame, but certainly not death-threats worthy. Where’s the middleground in here?

  60. “Lots of teens will have pictures that are a bit too risque, or involving drugs or alcohol, etc., and at some point I don’t think that will matter to employers if it’s in your past, Bad judgment sticks longer.”

    I think pictures that are a bit too risqué, or involving drugs or alcohol, etc. are the epitome of bad judgment.

  61. Risley,

    I’ll only contribute to the go fund me campaign if PTM agrees to buy the Caddy in South Florida white.

  62. Rhett, that new Caddy is neat, but I don’t want a Bat Mobile. I want a luxurious box that’s mounted on a mattress– you know, when you hit a bump, you’ll float forever before returning to the road. You know, something that will just scream, “Retired moderately successful insurance salesman.”

    While I should be mourning the departed on this day of his funeral, I’ve been looking at more pictures of the Continental concept. While it may be a bit too sporty for what I am looking for, I love the interior, but for the fact that the “Champaign Cooler” needs to be large enough for a 12-pack and moved to the front seat.

    I just love that Lincoln. Really. All the way home from picking up Junior, I was thinking private high school or a Continental. City schools are looking pretty good at this point.

  63. Oh, Ris! I’m keeping notes, and I know where to reach you (through your website).

  64. PTM– Bad judgment, yes. Poor word choice on my part. But common enough to be not socially debilitating. I did plenty of stupid things as a teen that I wouldn’t have posted online even then (had such a thing existed) but now even if you don’t post stupidity, your friends do it for you. Short of living like a pre-lawyer, or simply avoiding any scenarios that have bad optics, I can’t see many kids coming of age without some stupid photos making it online.

  65. Now that I look, I might be able to fall for the Caddy. My grandfather’s (in honor of Milo’s sensibilities, I’ll call) “retirement” car was a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado (gaudiest car ever!). My father lived much longer. He had several “retirement” Cadillacs, each one more luxurious than the other. So it’s a male, onset-dementia tradition for my family. It’s in my blood.

  66. Fair points all, Tulip. I certainly hadn’t thought of the “posted by bffs” concept.

  67. Off topic – elderly uncle in the hospital out of town. Going to be a long haul. Can’t send food – eating issues. What else can I send to make it more bearable? Cousin is all like “just send a card” but I’d really like to send something else! Anything people that are in the hospital for a long time would enjoy?

  68. Cleaning service to tidy up his place before he returns? Some reading material or books on tape?

  69. Moxiemom, I enjoyed a Sudoku book during my month in the hospital- perhaps that or an easy crossword puzzle book if he’s not already a fan. (Cross word puzzles are too hard for me because I never do them.) A flower or plant might be a good choice. Perhaps ask if he needs any personal care items (favorite lotion, shampoo, comfortable pillow)- I don’t know if others are attending to these needs, but my favorite pillow made my stay much more bearable and I liked the colorful pillowcase.

  70. If the WiFi is good, perhaps a subscription to Not sure if “elderly” still means “low tech” anymore or not.

  71. Moxie, how well do you know him? I think WCE is on the mark with personal care items, whether toiletries or otherwise, but if he packed his own fuzzy slippers, robe, pillow, books & CDs, then he doesn’t need them. In that case, conversation might be the best thing you could give him.

    My “experimentation” period came in my late 20s and lasted a month or two. As for revealing dress, I think every guy who’s ever fallen for me has thought he was Prof Hill falling for Marion the Librarian. I wear classic clothes, have owned & rarely wore one string bikini my whole life…it would be really, really hard to get a pic of me doing anything “compromising”, unless some guy stopped the action to grab a camera. In that case, you’d get a pouty face from me.

  72. Ah, thanks you guys! They are out of town for them and out of town for me! I think I will go with the blanket, towels, sudoko and cookies? for the nurses or would people prefer a fruit tray or pizza? Don’t know about his reading or viewing preferences. He’s 85. Thank you thankyou!

  73. Moxie to my uncle in that position I sent pajamas. He was also 85 and we door and seemed embarrassed to be in front of people in his old frayed pajamas. According to my parents he was delighted with the gift

  74. Moxie, I meant conversation on the phone, not in person, but it sounds like you’ve already come up with a plan.

  75. Moxie, something with headphones? When my elderly relatives have been in the hospital I would give them a Walkman and classical music tapes so they could escape from the hospital noise (they couldn’t work MP3 players).

  76. I just watched a short video on the Fortune web site about the new Lincoln. It is a beautiful car.
    the Auto show is this week in NY. I wish we could have a Totebag reunion at the Javits Center.

  77. Moxie, does he have a cell phone and/or a way to make calls from the hospital? I used calling cards for long distance during my Dec 2008 stay. Prepaid calling cards might be especially helpful if he is financially limited.

  78. You guys are amazing! Thanks for all the tips! It all seems so logical but at the time I can never come up with anything! Thank you thank you!

  79. All great ideas Moxie. If I were in the hospital, I would appreciate a book on tape, or Netflix to keep my mind off my discomfort and the surroundings.

  80. SM – the Trevor Noah clip was funny.
    You are not the only parent looking at other people’s hair strangely. I found out that some of the kids whose hair I liked were going to a particular men’s barbershop, so I took DS there.

  81. Moxie – my mom who is visually impaired enjoyed a basic radio to get her favorite station and books on her ipod. Also, chap stick and a non-generic lotion were much appreciated. The meds she was on dried out her skin and lips. The generics the hospital provided just increased the “hospital smell” in the room. If he is not already using a walker, but will need one, one of those baskets or cloth pockets that goes on the front is really useful.

    Not knowing his condition, if he is likely to soil pjs or blankets, they will just bag them to be sent home with a visitor or the patient. Unless someone is there to take/wash/return them, they may be a one shot use.

  82. That reminds me (though Moxie, this is probably not too useful for a while, but just to file it away….) I had a walker for a recovery period once upon a time, and some friends got me a cup-holder for the walker. Sounds ridiculous, but when you need two hands for a walker, you can’t actually go get your own cup of coffee and then carry it anywhere. So a travel mug with a lid and that cup-holder turned out to be two of my favorite gifts.

  83. Apropos – my in-laws (the ones we rarely see) are visiting right now. However, I am refraining from complaining about them on Facebook. ;)

  84. S&M – Yes it is. Having someone in the area who will help care for you is key to maintaining comfort in hospital or in-patient rehab for the elderly.

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