If you're a nerd and on twitter - and you know *I* am - then you undoubtedly heard about the "engaging" incident last week when LeVar Burton, the literacy advocate, narrator of Reading Rainbow, and visor wearing awesomeness from Star Trek TNG, accidentally tweeted out his personal cell phone number, intending it to be a Direct Message to someone else. The man has now been "Verbed"
I didn't have time to save the best tweet that I saw about it, but I'll try to do it justice -
LeVaring - Accidentally revealing too much personal information online, ie. "Crap, I totally just LeVared myself by tweeting out my SSN!"
Of course, the situation resulted in the need for Mr. Burton to get a new cell phone number, and he suffered a barrage of friendly taunts, many of them at the hands of hisTNG costars, Wil Wheaton (@wilw) and Brent Spiner (@BrentSpiner). All in all, the situation kept the uber nerd in me fully amused for about two days.
Now, it is remarkably less funny when this sort of thing happens to us normal, non Hollywood type folks. What do we do when we tweet, post, say, show, etc. something that we probably shouldn't have? I advise you to take a clean up lesson from LeVar Burton (@levarburton).
Accidents happen, even if you have the best social media policy on the planet. It's inevitable. LeVar didn't deny what happened, and even saw the humor in the incident. First thing, he took down the post of his phone number, making sure that it didn't stay live on the web. Had people seen it? Of course. I'm sure it's stored in any number of screen shots across the computers of the nerd nation. But despite this, he didn't leave it up. The longer something is up and live on the internet, the more clicks it gets, and the higher the issue swells.
Second, he took the appropriate action to mitigate the damage. In his situation, this meant getting a new cell phone, though in other situations it could mean apologizing, changing passwords, etc.
Thirdly, he chose to laugh at his mistake, rather than be embarrassed by it and deny it happened. He later tweeted out, saying he'd gotten a new number, and passing it along (a fake number of course) to show that he had a sense of humor about what happened. After all, it could have happened to anyone. Oh and by the way, LeVar's "Brand" on twitter has 1.6 million followers. If he can laugh at himself in front of the 1.6 million people who were watching him, I think you can laugh at yourself in front of the few thousands who are looking at you.
Yes, your online brand is serious business, but that doesn't mean you have to be so serious about it that you don't see the humor, or acknowledge the humor, of what might go wrong. The world will forgive LeVar for an accident. If you laugh at yourself a little more, they might be willing to forgive you too.