Louise Proudman and Alexander Carter-Silk sound like they have been named by Dickens for this very fracas. They came to the notice of the Words Nerds because of his comments on Linked In and and because we’re reading Culpeper’s Using Language to Cause Offence. In the case of Carter-Silk it seems that he’s misunderstood the social (and linguistic) norms of Linked In, a professional, networking site. Over on Facebook, with your mates, other rules may apply. The social norms of the group will be different. There’s a change in tone, it’s more informal and grammatically loose. We mostly know our FB friends well and are clear about where the politeness lines are drawn. It’s like being in the pub. Linked In is the office, or even the new business pitch. We should be more cautious and on our best behaviour. It’s a place to comment thoughtfully on things that are relevant to our industry. If you think something might be taken the wrong way or it may be politically incorrect, then maybe don’t post it. The line between flattery, impolitEness and rudeness may be a difficult one to judge, but maybe in our professional lives we should err on the side of caution?
Perhaps ProUdman over-reacted and perhaps Carter-Silk needs a specialist workshop on how to speak to attractive women on Linked In. Lesson one: it’s not the pub.