Throughout my years with a Facebook profile, I have seen it be used for many things. I’ve seen business pages achieve great success with many followers. I’ve seen college students sell their unwanted textbooks or furniture. And I’ve seen it used as a stockpile of photos, where users of all ages upload photos and tag any captured friends as soon as their internet connection is found. Are one of these tactics more acceptable or more widely used than another? Not necessarily. Facebook and other social media sites were meant to connect people, which all of these examples do. However, with the ever-spanning access to profiles and increased exposure, that also means that any decisions made via social media are likely to be permanent ones.
So in a world where you have to assume every potential boss, every parent whose kids you might teach, every future client will see your social media past, how do you erase it? And more importantly, should you be expected to?
Not necessarily. Just because technology has advanced to the point of almost illegal levels of stalking shouldn’t mean every person with a Facebook profile should make sure it’s PG. But in the same light, just because some information is available to the public doesn’t mean it should be taken to heart. Think about it, if your grandmother went on an all-day shopping spree while skipping school, who would have known about it? Certainly none of her future bosses, and probably not her entire address book either. But now all it takes is one mindless post and the world knows all about your day of freedom. Times have changed, and with them, so have social standards. Many users don’t even realize that complaint or off-color comment they made three years ago, let alone have the time to go back and delete it.
Your future vs. your social media past
Not every potential employer or business partner will search your internet background with a fine tooth comb, but that doesn’t mean all of them won’t. In the end it all comes down to common sense. If you’re an honor role student trying to apply to a mentorship program, your Twitter comments should probably be appropriate and professional. However, if you’re an aspiring tattoo artist with questionable photos, but questionable photos that accent your work, then leave them posted. There is no right or wrong answer to social media, and where the line is drawn is up to each individual (and maybe a little of online legal issues). Just remember that a social media profile is a reflection of the person who owns it. And if there’s something you can’t decide whether to post or not, it may be best just to leave it out.
Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos.