The other day, I was catching up with an old friend. I can’t remember how Facebook was brought up, but she said that she had deactivated her account.
“Oh…” I replied, wondering why.
These days whenever someone says they either don’t have a Facebook account or that they deactivated theirs, it tends to leave the people around them scratching their heads. Why wouldn’t you want the ability to connect with hundreds of people at your fingertips? Sure enough, my friend quickly supplied a valid reason (involving an ex of hers) to justify laying her FB to rest.
The fact is, being a cog in the clockwork of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. is such a norm in the lives of college students that when someone drops out of the virtual social circle, it makes the rest of us wonder why. But we all have those FB friends who make us question whether or not they realize that once they post a photo, it is, in fact, published for the world to see… forever. Someone, or probably a few people, come to mind I’m sure.
This brings me to a brief list of tips to remember before you post something that you’re unsure about. I’m sure you’re all aware of the do’s and don’t’s of social media, these are just a few main ideas I’ve gathered from my years in the online social-sphere.
- A picture is worth a thousand words.
Every time you post a picture online, think about what that photo says about you. In an ideal world, a questionable picture would only be seen by those who know us well enough not to pass judgment based on the photo alone.
Unfortunately, the reality is that before potential employers even meet us, they are probably going to shift through our social media outlets.
So let’s say you post a photo of yourself in a swim suit on the beach. That’s a totally normal photo to show friends in order to illustrate to them how beautiful the weather was on your vacation. However, it’s quite an awkward photo to share with a recruiter or a future boss.
Other iffy situations you may want to think twice about before visually broadcasting them on your social networks include but are not limited to:
- Excessive drinking
- Appearing intoxicated
- Provocative clothing or poses (this includes Halloween costumes)
- Drug use
- Violent imagery
- Keep offensive opinions to yourself.
If you’re on an emotional rampage and you are just itching to unleash your controversial opinions onto the world, social media may not be the best place to turn. I would recommend taking some time to relax and really thinking before you act.
Will your sassy remarks about a touchy subject actually solve the issue you’re concerned about? Probably not, but they will more than likely instigate a cyber showdown and this will make you appear immature to a potential employer.
- Clean up your language.
Everything posted on social media can be seen by the public until the end of time. Even if you delete a post or comment, it has still been published online and it remains out there on the web.
People who nonchalantly spew profanities on social media often make themselves sound more uneducated than they realize. Also, it tends to distract from the point the writer is trying to make.
Our online personas are made up of the presence we bring to each of our social media outlets. An individual’s online persona speaks volumes about the person’s character, especially to a stranger. So it is best to portray oneself as someone who doesn’t need curse words to get a point across.
- Come to terms with the fact that nothing on the World Wide Web is private.
Many of us have our social media accounts set to ‘private’ in hopes that only people we accept as ‘friends’ can view our profile. So that means recruiters and employers cannot see what I post, right? Nope.
There are absolutely ways to explore a private profile. According to an article by Michael Roennevig, from Demand Media (2014):
Just because you’ve set your account to the highest level of privacy, it won’t mean there’ll be absolutely no chance of a potential employer getting access to your Facebook profile. If a recruiter who’s considering you for a role knows one of your Facebook friends, she could quite easily get access to your pages. Roennevig also mentions other ways employers gain access to private profiles.
So it’s best to just keep questionable photos and content off of the Internet. It can be hard to distinguish what is appropriate these days when so many of our online friends are pushing the envelope in our ever-developing fortress of social media.