I’m worried about my generation. One of the reasons I worry is that we are so focused on a nontangible Internet world. From posts, likes, Tweets, pins, reposts and much more, it seems my generation is more centered on the phone in their hands than on the world around them. Although teenagers are focused on their social media presence, they don’t necessarily think about the image they are portraying of themselves on the Internet.
I am telling people of any age, not just teenagers, to be careful of what they post to social media. This has always been a pet peeve of mine. Many people do not understand that, depending on the privacy settings, others can see what they post, including future employers, teachers, coaches and potentially future in-laws. People use social media as a quick reference to look up someone’s name, job or to put a face to a name. If they scroll through your profile, people can generally gather a good summary or first impression of you within the first few posts.
“…young men and women who are now in their teens, early teens … probably underestimate the impact of their persona in social media,” said General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with the New York Post, – “…and what impact that could have later in life on things like security clearances and promotions.”
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be careful what you post. I see too many careless teens throwing away their futures because of an incriminating picture or a careless speculation. Today, many academic institutions view potential students’ profiles before accepting the students into schools, according to a recent article from Bestcolleges.com. And a recent Kaplan survey, said 70 percent of recruiters had denied candidates due to information found online.
I would like to provide a scenario: Suppose you are at a job interview and you have the perfect credentials for the position, but then your interviewer scrolls through your Facebook profile after the interview and finds irresponsible pictures. How is the person going to take you as a serious job candidate? Also as stated in the BestColleges.com article, the Kaplan survey found that 75 percent of companies have hiring policies that encourage recruiters to examine an applicant’s online reputation. Are you going to jeopardize your reputation by making the mistake of posting inappropriate content for people to see?
Social media is taking my generation by storm, and they are undereducated about the companies that consume a large part of their lives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Yik Yak, Tinder, Whisper, Snap Chat, Google+ and many more sites are taking over the Internet and the way we connect with people. I see more people that are able to hold a conversation through text rather than through a face-to-face discussion. People are often not aware that once they post to a site, that company then owns that content. The book, “Legal Guide to Social Media: Rights and Risks for Businesses and Entrepreneurs,” advises parents to “…teach your child that whatever they put online is permanent (this includes texting!) Private is not always private. The photo they post online is not owned by them anymore. It’s owned by Facebook, Instagram, and Google, etc… and they can do what they want with it.”
Every person in the United States has the right to freedom of speech, but as the saying goes: with freedom comes responsibility. I agree that it is your right to post whatever you want, but viewers will form opinions about you based on what they see. Whether you post that picture from the party is up to you, but remember that people will find your social media trail. Will you want them to see a rocky path, or a paved road to a bright future? The choice is yours.