I know most people have common sense and therefore this post is more than likely irrelevant to whoever is reading it. But because of the few things I have seen on social media lately I figured I should at least offer my opinion on the over-share epidemic that is currently sweeping this great nation’s social media sites.
During my last few blog posts I have written about the power of social media and how it can help you. However, while I will continue to sing the praises of Twitter and LinkedIn and Blogging etc., I feel as though I should dedicate this blog to things on social media that could hurt you. But first, I want to share my inspiration for this blog.
While browsing Facebook this past Monday, I came across an album of pictures that depicted the following things; empty liquor bottles, drugs, someone seemingly blacked out on a bathroom floor, and two people fighting. Fun fact: the people in the photos were 16. Now, my first reaction was this: Why would anyone ever post something like this online? And secondly, where, exactly, were your parents?! (I also realized at this moment that I am a 45 year old woman trapped in a 21 year olds body. So there’s that.)
However, I know what I did when I was 16. And I know people posted pictures of them on Facebook because “It was cool!” I personally refrained from this for fear of my parents finding out; Not because it may prevent my being hired in 10 years. Yet after viewing these pictures, I read an article that I found pretty interesting.
The other day, I was reading an article online about how Facebook is beginning to become obsolete. However because people in their early 20’s to mid thirties joined Facebook when it was “in,” we all have pictures and posts up from a long time ago, when we were maybe doing things that should NOT BE POSTED ON THE INTERNET. But I digress. Now, I am not saying that Facebook is irrelevant. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. When I joined Facebook, I was a sophomore in high school, and the last thing on my mind when posting pictures was, “What will my future boss say?” However, with the increasing popularity of Facebook came the need for companies to begin researching job candidates on the social networking site. So as people applied for jobs, they began to think more about what they had posted and ways to block strangers from seeing their profiles (and therefore shenanigans). It lead to people becoming more conscious of what they were posting online, and realizing that once something is published on Facebook, its not going anywhere. And not only will it stay on the internet, yet once a photo is posted to Facebook, they own it (read the terms and conditions people). Now, here is my point — In today’s market, people know that companies utilize computer programs that can access your Facebook or Twitter and see what you’ve posted, regardless of the privacy settings. However, for those of us who joined these sites when privacy settings seemed set in stone, there may be things on the site that do not show you in the most….”flattering” way. Or in other words, make you look crazy/vulgar/rude/inappropriate/immature…the list goes on and on. However, I hope that by writing this post, I can help someone repair the damage that may come from viewing your Twitter or Facebook page.
I was planning on putting a Do’s and Don’ts list here, but to do that would require the reader to know common sense. And I don’t mean that in a rude way at all. I just mean that in today’s world of technology, people have much more access to you and your personal life. And while this is a good thing, it can also be not that great at times. So when I say common sense, I mean just taking more things into consideration than you may have previously thought was necessary. For example, if I were a 25 year old man applying to a conservative marketing firm, I would probably not be posting pictures of the time my friend and I got drunk and vandalized a car. And why not? Because it’s stupid, thats why, and it makes sense to keep that to yourself (1. because it’s illegal, and 2. because it makes you look like a liability to whoever hires you.) So here’s my first pearl of wisdom: Unless you’re posting adds to the image you’re trying to convey, don’t post it. If it’s going to send the wrong message or makes you seem like someone you’re not, don’t post it. Better to keep it to yourself then have to explain to a potential employer why there’s a picture of you being arrested on the internet.
Next up, there are pictures of you doing something “not smart” online from when you were 15. Now that you’re 23 and don’t want people seeing them. First step, untag yourself. Second step, if they’re your pictures, take them down. Then, if your profile has matured with your age and the current posts are in line with what you want, I would say you’re fine. Pearl number 2: Most people have committed seemingly thoughtless acts when they were younger. As long as you aren’t doing it now, it should be fine.
Now moving on to Twitter, which is beginning to be stalked almost as much as Facebook. Here’s where common sense comes into play with this. Twitter is instantaneous. You want to post a picture of someone (or yourself I suppose) skinny dipping? Think twice! Once you hit “tweet” it’s done, regardless of how much you regret it when you wake up the next day. The danger here is that with Facebook, which used to mainly contain pictures from cameras, people had to wait to post them online until they were home and had some time on their hands. However, with the invention of the smartphone came the ability to post things on social media at any time, where ever you are. Therefore, for pearl number 3: “twitpics” may want to be saved until you get a better look at what you could be sending out to the “twitter verse.”
Now at this point you may be thinking, well I have common sense, I’m not dense, and I don’t post pictures on Twitter when I’m out at a bar. That’s great, but think about what Twitter is actually meant for: Communicating with words. Basically, people are going to see what you write and form their opinions based off of 140 characters or less. Much like with meeting someone in person (see last post), you want to make a good impression. For example, let’s say you go out to grab drinks with some friends. After a few cocktails, you feel giggly and outgoing and want to talk to people, whereas you’re normally more reserved. So you’re getting out there; Good for you! But don’t do it on Twitter, when you’re tipsily tweeting from the booth about the cute guy across the bar. Pearl Number 4: Tweet smart, have fun, know your limits. Your Twitter is a place to build your personal brand, as we have previously discussed in past blogs. So be sure that when you’re posting online to apply this whole “common sense thing.”