Say It To My Face(book) or Don’t Post It At All. Inspired By The Clay County Post That Went Around The World


West Virginia made international news when Pamela Taylor of the Clay County Development Corporation posted a controversial Facebook post about First Lady Michelle Obama, calling her an “ape in heels.” Her boss, Democratic mayor Beverly Whaling, commented on the post saying, “Just made my day Pam.”


Many have deemed the post racist; I’ll add stupid. I was raised in a small town where my Mom always told me, “Somebody always knows you even if you don’t see anyone you know.” My Mom would share this when I returned from an outing to town and someone would call my Mom with some detail of my behavior––usually good, usually. These anonymous reports always served as a  reminder that my Mom had eyes and ears everywhere.

Being raised like this has been helpful as we have moved into the social media world. I am, and you are, always being watched. I live by a code and I tell my children and my clients, “If you can’t say it to someone face, don’t say it on social media!” I stand by that. And, even when I am talking unromantically about a politician, celebrity or person that I may never see (but, in West Virginia chances are great that I might see the politician I am critical of at the coffee shop), would I say it to their face? If yes, I post. If no, I rethink my reasons why and rearticulate what I want to say to say it a better way––or not at all.

Maybe Pamela Turner would have called Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” to her face. Maybe she wouldn’t. But the lesson here is that someone is always watching; there is no separation between personal or professional. If you are on any social media platform, you are vulnerable that everything you say “can and will” be used for or against you. Your digital footprint is forever; wear clean socks.

Our world –– real and virtual –– is a tender and thrives on pointing fingers and virtual “lynch mobs.” Safe and unSafe space, politically incorrect and correctness, keyboard gangsters and missionaries are everywhere. Social media (to date) has no laws against bad manners or so-called hate speech, but when people are caught outside the morality of the masses, the consequences can be devastating for an individual with job. Reputations can be lost ––  or, in the case of Pamela Taylor, the entire state of West Virginia was branded as racists. The risks are huge.

Think before you post because Santa, your Boss and the world is watching.  

With that said, there are some things you can do to manage your risk and “privacy” on Facebook.

  1. Be POLITE!

How to do it: Even when you are telling an uncomfortable truth or perspective, imagine reading  your post to a second grade classroom.  

  1. Create friend lists.

How to do it: To the left of the news feed, you’ll see a “FRIENDS” heading with list titles underneath it. (If you’ve never made a friend list before, you’ll likely see the “smart lists” Facebook has pre-made for you, such as “close friends” and friends in your locale.) Up at the top, you’ll see a “create list” toggle — from there you can create fully customized lists of friends.

  1. Customize your privacy settings for status updates.

How to do it: When you choose to update your status, use the toggle next to the “post” button to customize who gets to see what you’re sharing.

  1. Choose who can see your likes and interests.

How to do it: Click on your likes link from your timeline. Then click “edit.” You’ll see an arrow to the right of each section of your favorites that allows you to customize who can see what. The same arrow is next to an “other pages you like” link that will allow you to choose who can see the pages you’ve chosen to receive updates from.

  1. Edit your Timeline information.

How to do it: Go back to that arrow next to the Home button and this time, click on Privacy Settings. Within the first paragraph of Facebook’s privacy settings explanation, click on the “editing your Timeline info” link. From there, you can customize who sees each information category in your profile.

  1. Lock down your photo albums.

How to do it: When you click on your photos to display the albums you’ve created, you’ll see an arrow below each album photo icon that allows you to change the audience for each album. Click on that arrow to customize who can see your photos.

Do you have any additional tips? Please post or email me: [email protected]