Shamebook: Watch What You Post…Everyone Else Is1comment
There are a lot of things that I am grateful for in my life. I’m grateful for my fiancé. I’m grateful for my dog. I’m grateful for my wonderful family and friends. I’m grateful for Mad Men and white wine. And I’m particularly grateful that Facebook didn’t exist when I was younger. By the time Facebook came around I was old enough to know better than to share every little detail of my personal life. Selective sharing is the name of the social networking game. The subheading? What happens on the internet is forever.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like everyone has been clued in on these rules. Megan wrote an article about Public Displays of Sadness commenting on how people can use social networking sites to display their melancholia. Certainly, a quick glance at my Facebook newsfeed reveals that not everyone is having a great day (or in some cases, a great life). But this isn’t about the people that aren’t having the best day ever. It’s about the people that are.
Look, I’m not here to be the fun police. I like to have a good time and goof around with friends as much as the next person. However, this is where selective sharing becomes incredibly important. So your friend took a picture of you doing body shots off of that gorgeous male model type at the bar on Friday. Hilarious! You can all look at the picture and laugh. You know who probably isn’t laughing? Your boss. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that they aren’t looking. Have you ever looked for them on Facebook? Of course you have. It works both ways. I don’t care how locked down you think you have your Facebook. If we’ve learned one thing it is that nothing on a website is ever actually private, no matter what privacy settings you choose. Example? My sister, an elementary school teacher, made herself unfindable on Facebook. So imagine her shock when she received a friend request from a former student. The student couldn’t see anything, but he still managed to find her even though she had made sure she did not appear in any searches. Internet privacy is something of a myth.
So, gentle reader, the message here is to watch what you post. My father is fond of saying “Don’t ever say anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the [Chicago] Tribune.” I think that holds true for internet posts as well. If you don’t want you mom to see it, don’t post it. This seems rational right?
So why do so many people post horrible things? I’m not just talking about the drunken photos (although, stop). I’m talking about the passive aggressive status updates, the angry rants at your job or your family or your life, the inappropriate tagging of people (general rule of thumb: ask before you tag)…the list goes on. It seems like the ability to immediately have the world know every little thing that is on our minds has clouded our good judgment. Words can most definitely pack a punch, despite what childhood nursery rhymes about sticks and stones would have us believe. It’s harder to be nasty to someone when you can see the expression on their face. The internet has eliminated that. We no longer see the impact that our words have and, consequentially, we don’t see the damage. And it’s not just damage to other people. When you rant and rave and attack someone who winds up looking like the jerk? Yup, you do.
This site has often preached the “think before you post” lesson. It’s a valuable lesson. Remember the anger management practice of writing a letter to the person that has wronged you and then waiting a day to mail it? It’s so you have time to cool off and think about whether or not you REALLY want to say those things. Employ the same caution on the internet. Engage brain before engaging iphone. You’ll be better off for it.