By Gina B.
What did we do before social media? The combination of social media sites and our smartphones have given us real-time access to anything we’d ever need to know – and lots of things we’d never need to know. It’s great, right? Until there’s information about you floating in the ether that you’d prefer to suppress.
For example, it was funny when your friend took a picture of you, passed out drunk with your skirt hiked up higher than normal. Not so cute when you were tagged on Facebook. In the age of instant information, it takes seconds for that private, racy shot to become lunchtime entertainment for an audience of a million strangers.
I had a recent run-in with a restaurant regarding a social media privacy violation, and the exchange caused me to think long and hard about whom we entrust with information, and how we present ourselves in social media.
Social media has increased our access to companies, celebrities and one other. When you’re considering using a new service or trying a new restaurant, you check reviews on Yelp and read customer comments that could dictate whether or not you will utilize that service.
Likewise, when you meet a new dating option, you might immediately Google him/her and figure out if there’s a Facebook profile so that you can see who you know in common. You eagerly scroll through pictures and try to determine relationship status. Maybe you can determine who he/she dated in the past. You could also check to see if he/she has a Twitter account. What’s the tone of his/her tweets? Intelligent and witty, or are there 5 misspelled words in a 140 character message?
Similar to how you’d vet a restaurant, you check social media to get information – information that used to be gained the old-fashioned way -- by dating and having conversations.
That said, if someone were to do a little delving into your online persona, rather than get to know you organically, what would they find? Is your avatar an accurate representation of the real you? Ladies, do you paint a picture of a person who’s dateable, or are you closer to the “girls gone wild” profile? Guys, are all of your posts about being a “playa playa,” or does there appear to be room in your life for a real relationship? Is there too much access to your personal information?
I have a few hard and fast rules when it comes to social media:
- Don’t post anything that everyone can’t read. Once something is displayed on the internet, it’s impossible to un-ring that bell.
- Be wary of using your real name, unless you’re in the business of media. For purposes of safety, when communicating on social media sites, consider using an alias and a minimally revealing email address.
- Know that the best way to keep revealing pictures from being posted is not to have them taken.
- Be cautious of friending people that you don’t really know.
- Be judicious about posting information about friends. You might think it’s funny, but you never know who’s watching.
Do you have any tales of social media situations gone wrong? Tell us! We want to hear about them.