If used properly, social media can be an ideal way to let friends, family and potential employers view slices of your life. However, college students don’t often think about the negative consequences of improperly (or immaturely) using social media.
A huge mistake many young adults make is neglecting to acknowledge that what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet … forever. Even once it’s deleted, someone, somewhere can find it. Myspace pictures? Yeah, they’re floating around in cyberspace. By now, that probably seems inconsequential. (Those pictures were taken in 2006!) Years from now, your “Raaaaage” album on Facebook will seem inconsequential to you, too, but people trying to hire you might disagree.
“I make a point to never have pictures taken of me with a beverage in my hand because I know it can be on Facebook,” said Sammy Thom, a University of Oregon senior.
Even if you don’t do this, at the very least, make sure your privacy settings are secure.
Facebook is the primary social media site for most college students. It’s where picture albums, statuses, location updates and links are posted. It’s where lists of favorite shows, movies, books and interests rest forgotten about. This is awesome if it’s up-to-date and appropriate. However, I’ve done some intense Facebook stalking in my day, and most profile information I’ve seen hasn’t been updated since that Myspace to Facebook switch was made.
More likely than Facebook to have inappropriate information is Twitter. It seems innocent because it has a 140-character limit and requires less brainpower than Facebook to update.
“People just don’t post continual statuses on Facebook and when I see that on my timeline it’s annoying,” said Randi Brown, a UO senior. “With Twitter, it’s just more accepted that you tweet more often. What comes with that is tweeting insignificant things.”
These “insignificant things” are often word vomit not important or clever enough for Facebook. Since older family members aren’t usually on Twitter, it also tends to be where drunken college ramblings go. No, it isn’t necessary to tweet while six shots deep, and it isn’t necessary to tweet about it the next day, either.
While using Twitter responsibly isn’t as fun, it’s better in the long run. Having a private account seems suspicious, so that’s not a viable solution. If it’s too difficult to tone down your amount of inappropriate tweeting, another option is to create two accounts: one under an alias for your friends, and one under your real name for the rest of the world.
At the end of the day, what you put on the Internet should reflect the kind of image you’re okay having others assign to you. College life has its place and we all love it, but it’s also important to remember that we’re not the only ones looking at the pictures of our habits.
“I make sure my privacy settings are pretty tight,” said family and human services major Diana White. “I would say I try to keep my Facebook and Twitter as politically correct and ‘clean’ as possible. It’s my friends’ activity that I have to worry about some days. I would like to think employers wouldn’t be too horrified, but being elected president could get dicey because of some Facebook activity.”