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June 12, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Facebook Fury: Shaking Up Ties with My Competitors

By Rachael Steil More Blogs by This Author

"Ouch. One down, twenty-four to go."

That's what I had typed out on my online running log to detail a race I had run that weekend. Yes, I was ignorant enough to believe no one else would care to read my entry--no one but my coach and maybe a few of my teammates who had the time and interest to read my novel-length running log posts.

Maybe I was more into writing about the race in its entirety than thinking anyone would feel hurt by that comment. It was a race, after all. And, as an aspiring writer, I had a great race to detail; a story to tell. What's more, I didn't know who had fallen in the beginning of the race; I just remember hearing the smack on the ground moments after the gun went off.

Online Antics

There are definitely some things I've learned you should not post online--even on something as simple and seemingly secluded as an online running log. Not a day after posting my running log entry, one of the girls I competed with in the race added me as a friend on Facebook.

Neat! These girls think I'm cool!

Right.

I saw her most recent Facebook status about how she had fallen in the race.

"That was you who fell? I'm soooo sorry! I had no idea, that sounded horrible!" I commented. I genuinely felt bad for her.

Her response? "Thanks..."

Something didn't feel right. I was wary of the look of those three ominous dots. Minutes later, that girl's teammate added her input into the Facebook status conversation: "'One down, twenty-four to go'--doesn't sound like you were 'sooooo sorry.'"

My stomach dropped. I recognized those words. They were mine. 

They actually read my running log? Why would they care to? Who knew how many of those girls, my competitors, had read my thoughts about the race. Not only that, but they were probably talking all about it during their daily track workouts. I had turned from a seemingly kind, fast little freshman, to the ultimate enemy. Ttheir team was twice as big as ours; these girls would destroy me.

Cleaning Up the Mess

I spent the rest of the night apologizing to the girls about everything, only to find more comments that sent my stomach plummeting. "At least our team runs with class," was posted by another girl on their team. I knew it was directed toward me.

This was not the kind of person, not the kind of competitor I wanted to be portrayed as. It was a misunderstanding, but I knew I went too far.

I spent the night apologizing to nearly every girl on their team (you say something hurtful about one teammate and they see it as an attack on all of them--and rightfully so). At that point, I almost wished I hadn't even raced. Maybe I should have listened to the internal voice saying, You're posting your thoughts about the race on the Internet--anyone could read it.

The most offended girls forgave me reluctantly, but I still felt rejected and despised. I messaged them, left comments on their Facebook walls, and even took the time to write an entry on my running log apologizing about the whole incident.

Yet Another Warning

Yes, yet another story about why you shouldn't post anything controversial on the Internet--at least not anything you feel would make you look bad if you thought so-and-so saw it. Facebook isn't the only place to avoid this openness. Even a sentence as seemingly simple and hidden as mine hurt others, and I regret writing it.

Any inkling of fear, uncertainty ... anything that would ruin relationships with others or put you in a bad light if it it fell into the wrong hands ... keep it off the Internet. Not only was my image as a kind competitor damaged, but I felt exposed and embarrassed. It didn't completely ruin the way everyone thought about me in the competitive running world, but it definitely didn't strengthen any ties that I usually like to have, even with the girls I want to beat.

Even a situation such as this can be applied to the bigger world; even when you are in "competition" against another person (maybe another company for work, a frustrating coworker, etc), leave any possible hurtful or questionable comments out of the picture. Even the smallest of things can be blown out of proportion and cause drama.

"One down, twenty-four to go." Looks like I was the one who went down in the end.

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