You really do care about what’s on your social media pages! Trust me, you do! You don’t care about it because your friends are on it. You care about your social media image because of the people you do not know who may be able to view it. You care about it because of the “unknown”. You care about future jobs and internships. You care about losing opportunities. You care about how posts can make you appear arrogant or irresponsible. You care about how social media posts can amplify the impact of criminal activity, whether you thought it was harmless at the time or not. Consider the situations below and how social media made the problems worse.
1) Controversial or illegal activities can haunt you into infinity. In 2013, a group of teens were drinking at a party. A female student got so drunk that she passed out. Some of the males at this party took advantage of the situation. Not only did they take advantage of her inability to protect herself, but they also took pictures and placed the information on their social media sites. Do you really think the fact that the whole country is aware of the issue did not add to the difficulty of the entire situation? Do you think any of the young people who were involved in the situation will ever be able to forget this whole situation? This information is on the Internet and will be for the foreseeable future. The female in the situation has to deal with her emotional scars and the boys will have a hard time getting moving on with their lives because everybody knows. Not only are they convicted criminals, they will be regarded as stupid.
2) Don’t be arrogant. This kid’s father won an $80k, and she bragged about it online. She didn’t know part of the legal requirements for the settlement said that the details couldn’t be discussed. Didn’t she participate in any team sports whereby she should’ve learned sportsmanship? Isn’t everybody taught how tacky it is to boast and taunt others?
3) Guilt by association. Not only do you have to think about what you say online, you have to consider who you follow and associate with online. Once you do it online, it’s not “just your business”! Although you may not think it is a big deal, the organizations that you are connected to or want to be connected may have an image that they want to uphold. If you have an image that an organization does not like or doesn’t want to be associated with, it may choose to separate from you. Just ask Desean Jackson!
4) You can lose opportunities. You can even lose the money to go to school! Your social media presence starts with the first account that you open. It is not just for people with jobs to worry about! Yes, Ms.-16-Year-Old-Track-Star, you do have something to lose!
5) It can cost you your job. A 24-year-old teacher was hanging out during her free time and drinking a couple of alcoholic beverages, which was legal for her to do! She lost her job because she is expected to maintain the image of a role model for the high school students that she teaches. Again, good judgement counts! She could drink, but privately! Everybody doesn’t need to know that’s how she spends her free time. Bottom line: what is there to really brag about in terms of drinking? It is like celebrating being drunk or not fully in control: what organization, particularly one that deals with kids, wants that?
Not many organizations and people are going to give you a pass for certain activities that you were part of simply because you were young. Nearly EVERYBODY will say that if you were old enough to brag about what you did on social media, you were old enough to understand the consequences. Fair or not, depending on what you want to do with your life, you will need an image that is as squeaky clean as possible. Society does not expect you to be perfect; however, even at an early age, society expects you to exercise good judgement. Good judgement means that you start figuring which parts of your life should not be public.