I’ve been on a bit of a presentation circuit lately, giving talks on social media to high school students and parenting groups. It’s always interesting to make teenagers look at social media and the internet in a different light. These kids have grown up with technology at their fingertips and the learning curve is far less pronounced with them than it is with their parent’s generation.
But, because it is so second nature making them stop and think about what they are doing is almost more difficult than it is for the older generations. Their parents already ask why when it comes to all things new on the internet. Teens and young professionals automatically figure why not.
One of the things I always stress is to pause before posting a new status on Facebook or sending a Twitter message and ask yourself two questions – what is the real message I am sending with these words and am I ok with this being part of my permanent record? If either question cause you to falter slightly better not post it for the world to see.
Messaging is a huge part of social media today. Everything boils down to the messages we are sending. For a person, that message informs the way others think about you. And is a very specific way of telling the world exactly what you are all about. Status updates that are all negative, sarcastic, caustic, or just superfluous fluff do nothing to show you are an independent strong minded unique individual.
The long term aspect is also something difficult to comprehend. For so many millennials instant gratification is the rule of day. If it feels good to write this now why not do so? But the problem is, especially where Facebook is concerned but also Twitter and other social media outlets, nothing ever really disappears. So you may one day be in the running for a political position, a new job or a promotion and the person in charge of that decision can access every word you’ve ever typed into a status bar.
So, before pressing enter on that next status update or tweet. Take one step back and ask yourself. What my message? Am I ok with this being public forever?