Twitter Rage in the Twitter Age: How intoxicating anonymity can derail your career

"No, John, you may NOT use 'I got kissed by a priest' as one of your sins. Do I make myself clear?

It is a fascinating paradox of human nature that we would gladly hold open a tavern door for the person we just tried to kill in a moment of blinding road rage on our way to that tavern.

A lot of our rage behind the wheel is attributed to the anonymity that we enjoy in our cars—that and the fact that this jackhole has been driving 55 in the left lane with his blinker on for the last two miles and I swear to God if I ever get in front of him …

But I digress.

Social media is having much the same effect on our frontal lobes, allowing us to engage in behavior so unsociable that we wouldn’t even confess it to our priest.*

* Another quick digression. Before Monsignor Bulman excommunicated my mom from St. Mary’s for having the gall to find herself divorced(!) from her philandering husband, she used to help us make up sins on the way to confession. It was only a two-mile ride so there was a lot of frantic horse trading in the back of our station wagon.

“I don’t want ‘hitting.’ I didn’t hit anybody!”

“OK, I’ll take ‘hitting,’ Mary Beth. But you gotta take ‘being disrespectful’ and ‘skipping your prayers.’ ”

“But I didn’t skip my prayers.”

“Fine. We’ll give that to Marnie. She needs some more sins anyway. But then you gotta take ‘not sharing.’”

“But I always share!”

And although we never said it out loud, we all knew that making up sins to confess to the priest definitely qualified as one of the sins we should fess up to.

The most recent example of unsocial media that resulted in “career Twittercide” involves one Jofi Joseph, aka @natsecwonk, who was an Obama political appointee to the National Security Council. Protected by the anonymity of his Twitter account, Joseph engaged in a self-described “series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments” for more than two years.

When he was finally outed as the culprit in a sting orchestrated by White House officials, he was promptly fired, an administrative action that was confirmed by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Not a good day for Jofi. Not good at all.

So what can we learn from this, kids? Right. If you need to make snarky comments about your co-workers, your boss, or your employer, don’t do it online, especially if you're a presidential appointee to the freakin' NSC. If you must complain, do it the old-fashioned way—in drunken slurs slumped over your your seventh Jameson’s neat in your favorite neighborhood tavern.