Social networking is an amazing tool. With one click of a button you can inform you friends, colleagues, family members and random strangers that you are engaged, accepted to graduate school or en route to an amazing vacation. However, with one click of button you can also inform that same group that you are unexpectedly pregnant, inappropriately drunk, or recently fired. Finding a balance that is both appropriate and enjoyable is one few people have yet to master.
Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace all allow users to upload unlimited amounts of photos. Now, don’t get me wrong, your trip to the Bahamas does look inviting…however, 27 pictures of you and your on-again/off-again boyfriend making out on the beach is boring and gross. I am all for love but the absence of such pictures makes my heart grow fonder of our online relationship.
These social networking sites are not simply limited to people in the 15-30 range. Parents, grandparents, and the elderly woman across the street all have the access and ability to become members…and friends of yours! Nothing can make a hangover worse than a phone call from your mother who just saw pictures of you pop-up on her Facebook feed from last night…in the midst of final exams.
Employers are also social network savvy. You may clean up and look great in a suit but the person interviewing you may have already seen you half-naked doing a keg stand. Though your friends were impressed, few employers are.
The irony of these social network snafus is that they are all easily preventable. Your first step, think before you post. Are your friends primarily co-workers, family members, close friends? If they are a mixture, tailor your postings to the most conservative group to prevent offending anyone or ruining any opportunities.
Not in the mood to censor yourself? No problem. Security settings were created for a reason. Take the time to learn how the security settings work on each social networking medium you frequent. By changing and modifying your settings you can determine who can see your pictures, status updates, and even comments made by your friends. You also control who you become “friends” with. If you are interviewing for new jobs, and have already set your privacy settings to only allow confirmed individuals to see your information, be wary of friend requests of people you do not know.
Life is fun. Sharing your life is awesome. If it weren’t for Facebook, our family “friends” in New Zealand would see or hear very little about us or us about them. I treasure the ability to immediately share ideas, information, events and photos across the hemisphere. Over-sharing, however, is overrated. Be aware of the difference or become painfully aware of the consequences.