Is social media a demon in disguise? Social media can have offline consequences like contributing to our depression and even costing us a job we love — but hold tight. It’s not all evil. And how else are we supposed to know what our buds are up to? We just gotta know how to avoid the bite while dancing with the vampire. We’ve got to take the lead and dip before we get dipped. That’s all. Now let’s get to steppin’.
People lose jobs, spouses, friends and even self-respect over social media mistakes. It’s a navigational nightmare out there and the consequences are no joke. I dug up and compiled some all-too-common mistakes — no, not the obvious one like keep your pants on buckaroo —but some too often unconsidered, must-avoid or must-do strategies for the savvy person who knows that social media is the real world’s stage where they better be in control before that spotlight swings their way.
Control the Impact of Social Media
Clicking Away the Hours
Spending “too much” time on social media appears to have a negative impact on mental well-being. Okay, fine. But how much is too much? No one seems to know yet, and the findings are still a little controversial. What the heck do we do with that?
Take control of the time spent with solutions like time-tracker apps that will tell us how many hours we’re spending on these sites. Make it a game to keep that percentage declining with every report and see if our overall outlook on life improves. Controversial findings? Who cares anyway except whether or not we feel better with fewer Twitter hours. I am my own guinea pig and found that exposing myself to 10% less time trying to scroll by political arguments did nothing but improve my life.
Personal Information Bombs
We might think that our followers are our “friends” but be real, many are acquaintances at best. And acquaintances do not have the context to appreciate or understand the minutes of our lives. Sharing details can, in fact, open us up to judgment, projected crap like envy and can spur even greater impacts such as job loss or neighbor feuds.
The truth is, most folks do not want to see and hear about every single detail of our personal lives. Get a therapist for that stuff. Like the checker at the store, people in social media want us to respond “fine, thank you” and move on. So when we don’t, when we begin to gush about our break-up and what we think about the political candidates, we can face consequences that range according to the access the reader has to our personal lives.
We all know by now that it’s a huge mistake is to post deets when going on vacation. People will know we’re away from home and someone could take advantage of the time — the opportunistic twerps. But even if we wait to post when we get back, we may get crap. Posting those vacation photos in Hawaii could make our lonely neighbor decide to report to the homeowner’s association that we’ve been out of compliance on our lawn care because hey, that neighbor never gets to go to Hawaii, you must be rich so it serves you right — right?
The only solution here is to remember that not everyone who can read these posts will view them in a kind way or have our best interests at heart, so we should take care and think before we post. Unless we have an account on careful lockdown — aim for “fine, thank you” and maybe not much more personal than that.
Photos are Forever
It’s not enough to avoid body-exposing shots anymore. Obviously, we don’t want to put up crotch-shots and expose ourselves in images that will haunt us for years.
But we’ve got to be savvier. We’ve gotta know enough to not post pics with alcoholic drinks in hand, or in which we appear drunk or high. These have a good probability of offending someone who may have just enough access to our lives that real harm could come of it. This goes for obscene gestures, illegal activity and posing with that recent wild animal kill. Too many selfies can also make you seem vain, so that’s worth thinking about, too. Be smart, keep the party-pics and things that might offend to a private channel and build an online image that looks like someone grandma wants to meet. Whatever, grandmas are cool.
Look through those old posts and delete them. Then update privacy settings to be sure you’re always in control.
If you just can’t resist posting more details than your general list needs to know, you can always make groups in your settings, and only post your private things to them. Even so, remember it only takes one jealous person to make your private world public.
Don’t Talk Trash
Even if we’re not online friends with our employer, odds are, we’re not more than a couple of gossiping acquaintances removed either. Consider that everything we post may get back to the boss and bite us, hard. People do take screenshots and text them all over. Will that post be seen differently if it’s taken out of context?
Even when we aren’t talking about the boss specifically, their view of us can be tainted by a rant or political or religious post. Some companies even have policies that can issue a reprimand (or worse, geeze) for certain types of posts. Also, don’t post during work hours, obviously that’s going to get you in a heap of trouble.
Save that venting for true friends over drinks at the bar or call up your mom — and if you must post during work hours, be smart, put it in an app like Buffer and schedule it to go live after-hours.
Most of us are guilty of at least some of these social media mistakes, so go back and clean up the stuff that could still get you in the end. And let’s be savvier going forward. Let’s be in charge of our image and our time so we’re deciding how we’re seen and so we’re in control of how and when social media impacts our lives. No more of this “fired for a social media gaffe” stuff; we’re smarter than that.