For my last semester of college, I’ve have been taking a rather intense course on social media. It’s a bit tricky to implement what I’ve learned into my own self-promotion, but I’m walking away with some useful resource tools like HootSuite and Spotify under my belt.
More importantly, I’ve learned about the things that I and everyone else desperately need to avoid or stop doing. A vast majority of these things would seem to be obvious, but alas, we still still go out of our way to make complete fools of ourselves on the public stage of the Internet where anyone can find your stupidity and judge for it accordingly.
Relationships have ended over Twitter, jobs have been lost over LinkedIn, and criminals have been caught over Facebook (although, granted, most of them probably deserved it) all because they apparently didn’t get the memo that not every aspect of their lives need to be online. Here are some things to bare in mind while using the social network of your choice.
It’s a joke told around the web; The phrase, “I have read to and agree to the terms of service,” is the greatest lie we have ever told. But who is actually hurt more by this act of negligence?
Most people are aware of the people claiming that they refuse to let platforms like Facebook claim right to their photos and posts, but those people have already lost the fight. When you click that OK button, you have signed your life away. You have already agreed to let the company use your information as they see fit.
Before anyone asks, yes, I understand that I use many of the social networks that are guilty of these practices. The difference is that I understood the risks and accepted them as a necessary means of self-promotion. I understand that it can be daunting, but you really need to get past ‘Too long; Didn’t read’ for your own good and security.
Stop Posting Bad Pictures/Status Updates About Yourself
You would think it would go with out saying that you shouldn’t post that drunken selfie on your Instagram account, but people still do it anyway.
Understand that social media is a public platform. The truth of that is in the title; SOCIAL media. It’s not just you, your friends, your family, and the magic pixies that live in your computer to make it work. Absolutely EVERYONE can see what you do.
As an experiment, go to a co-worker or some other person you know who doesn’t have you as a friend on Facebook. Now have them search for pictures of you on their account and see how many things come up that would kill your chances at finding a new job. Congratulations! You just successfully simulated the actual job screening process!
So the next time you get the idea to tweet, “ZOMG, totes gettin crunk @ dorm 2nite. #YOLO,” please would you kindly beat yourself in the head repeatedly with the narrow edge of your tablet to remind you how bad of an idea that would be.
Stop Posting Bad Pictures/Status Updates About OTHER PEOPLE
If you think the shock of finding self incriminating evidence that you willingly put on YouTube is bad, imagine the pangs of betrayal your girlfriend will feel when she dumps you because she lost that big promotion over the video of her in a drunken cat fight with her sister that you posted.
Posting bad content of your peers is possibly worse than posting it of yourself. Not only have you ruined someone else’s life, but now you’ve lost their support AND have made yourself a guilty party in the eyes of others via association. It’s the double-tap of social media faux-pas!
Many people like to say, “don’t post anything you don’t want your grandmother see,” as a rule of thumb. Honestly, that’s just not good enough. Instead, make a point of not posting anything that you or your associations can’t say/do in a mall or some other public venue without either being judged accordingly or removed by security.
Like Diamonds, The Internet Is Forever
Take some time to check and see how difficult it would be to close a Facebook account. Believe me when I tell you it is not a simple undertaking.
Part of the beauty of the Internet is that it serves as a catalog and repository for information and records. Unfortunately, this means that most of what you see on the web and many of the things you can’t see will still be accessible for decades after you have long since forgotten that it existed… even if you don’t want it to.
Even if you do delete it, odds are it has already been recorded and saved by someone. Things like the Internet Archive allow anyone to pull a history of a site’s updates and posts with amazing ease and can easily show one’s own failings.
I believe that the dual hosts of Radio Dead Air’s ‘What The **** Is Wrong With You‘ feature, Nash Bozard and Tara Deenihan, put it best when they said that we will soon have no viable candidates for the presidency because of permanent online records. All of this because people can’t seem to understand how difficult it is to get stupid off of the Internet once it is on.
What Can You Do To Fix This?
At this point, sadly, very little. Once you’ve posted something, the damage has already been done. People have seen your ignorance and it has most likely been carefully documented. However, there are ways to soften the blow.
First, look into services like SimpleWash. It’s a totally free service that searches Facebook and Twitter for possible undesirable keywords to help you remove them. You’ll still have to look through the pages for yourself, but it’s a good start to get you going.
While your at it, just try putting your name into various search engines and see what comes out. Typically you only need concern yourself with the first page or two of results since most people never search that far. Even if you can’t remove a frightening result, you can at least prepare for it should the question ever arise, e.g. ; “That’s not me,” (you’d be surprised how many people may share your name) or, “I was very young and still learning then.”
Stay smart, keep your records clean and know your story. You never know who may be your next boss.
- 10 useful tips for better use of social networks (part 1) (fieldoo.com)
- How to Hone Your Social Media Skills Using HootSuite University (thesocialmediahat.com)