In today’s society people are able to receive and send information as soon as it happens. Text messages and social media sites have become the new norm and Google has become a verb. Some reach out to connect with family or friends who are far away while others may be reaching out for guidance or mentoring from fellow Airmen. Although these can be great reasons to use social media, herein lies the problem with social media.
Although the intent of a statement or request made on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, may be meant to gain insight or guidance, one should be careful how they present it in writing. What receivers of this type of communication do not have is the ability to hear the inflection of a person’s voice, which may tell the difference between sincerity and sarcasm. Nor does the receiver of such communication get to see the nonverbals to be absolutely sure they fully comprehend the sender’s communication. Without this ability the communication is not always clear and could be construed as inappropriate or disrespectful.
Some may have forgotten about Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards, published Aug. 7, 2012. In this fairly new AFI there are many important things we should be reminded of on a regular basis. The AFI covers the use of social media and paragraph 2.15 explains how Airmen should appropriately use it. In particular, paragraph 2.15.3 states, “You must avoid offensive and/or inappropriate behavior on social networking platforms and through other forms of communication that could bring discredit upon the Air Force or you as a member of the Air Force, or that would otherwise be harmful to good order and discipline, respect for authority, unit cohesion, morale, mission accomplishment, or the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.”
We are required to abide by this AFI and should be mindful of what we post and where. First, you never know who has the ability to see these messages and hence, my earlier statements about how messages are perceived. This could get you into trouble. Second, the very thing you may be trying to improve, such as morale, may have an opposite effect. Third, this could eventually have a negative effect on your career, and considering the current drawdown situation, this is probably not a good time to be testing your continued service in our great Air Force.
Follow our core values and you can’t go wrong — integrity first and always first, service before self and excellence in all we do.