Awareness of our digital footprint
What we post on social media could impact the future
We live in an age where we have to be conscious of our every tweet, status update and comment on social media. Our digital footprint, or our collective social media presence over time, is forcing us to watch what we say because it's open for everyone to see or uncover - particularly future employers.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, nor is it too difficult. Many students have their accounts on private so only their accepted friends can see what's posted.
The days of posting every thought or whim on Facebook have passed and now the primary social media tools seem to be Snapchat and Instagram, both of which are image-based. There is still room for error here, but Snapchats disappear - in theory - and the only writing involved on Instagram is captions, comments and direct messaging. It's easier to control what we post, especially on Snapchat where we can choose who sees our pictures down to the person.
Social media can be utilized as a tool to showcase our ideas and accolades. We can post about our accomplishments, interact with others from all over the world and show our values. Instagram can serve as a résumé for photographers or bring in revenue through advertising.
The plethora of available messaging services allows us to connect with others - including potential employers - with our best foot forward. Because there are so many forums, social media provides us the opportunity to customize each. For example, it's easy to have a professional Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but post more liberally on Snapchat.
LinkedIn is one of the newest forms of social media that is designed to be professional. Its Facebook-like setup allows the user to post his or her résumé on his or her profile and connect with businesses and employers of interest. But LinkedIn is connected to your actual Facebook account, so if you have pictures of underage or excessive drinking, it can be easy for a potential job offer to suddenly disappear.
Don't assume you won't fall victim either; employers do check your social media. Coworkers will friend request and follow you. For some jobs, such as government jobs, employers will check almost all the social media you have and go back potentially years, so anything that you have posted previously will be found. You can set yourself up to succeed by already having a safe page, rather than backtracking and being forced to delete things. We can control everything that shows up on our pages, so there isn't really an excuse to have photos with alcohol, partying or swearing.
The younger generation has both an advantage and disadvantage. They are naturally more aware of what they post, since they tend to have a smaller audience and wouldn't necessarily have pictures of drinking or partying. At the same time, so many young people have iPhones and other technology that allows them to post constantly if they want to. This technology may make them more savvy to how to use and post on social media, so it's possible they won't face the same scrutiny that the adult, job-seeking world is now.
The best way to keep everything safe and clean is to comb through all forms of social media, try to delete anything you wouldn't want your parents to see and set each account to private. Social media can be an enjoyable way to interact with others but if it isn't clean, it may affect your future. We are moving into our adult lives and it should be easy enough to control what we post and how we share our thoughts and feelings.
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