Tired of being lectured about the dangers of social media? Yeah. Me too. So you won’t find me lecturing today. But I did read an article in the New York Times that made a huge impression on me and got me to thinking about the problems we can bring on ourselves through social media.
It’s a super long but compelling article that I highly recommend. It tells the story of Justine Sacco. Her life was truly ruined because of a poorly worded tweet she posted. Not only did she disappoint and embarrass her family but she was fired from her job and even received death threats from complete strangers who misunderstood the meaning of her tweet. The article also mentions other people who have truly suffered because of one unfortunate post on Facebook.
Of course, I do want to point out that teens are not the only ones who do stupid things on Twitter or Facebook and it gets old when people act like we are the only ones posting questionable or horrible things. There are plenty of adults who have gotten ridiculed or even fired from their job because of something they have posted online. But teens are guilty too.
Here are some of the social media mistakes teens should avoid along with a few personal examples…
There should be a limit to how much you post every day. Just realize that we don’t all care that you just brushed your teeth or that you have a hangnail.
Post Embarrassing or Offensive Status Updates
These things can haunt you forever. Colleges and potential employers may see something you wouldn’t want them to see. If you think it’s questionable you probably shouldn’t put it up. At least ask someone!
You know what’s really attractive? Teens ranting about how much they hate their parents and/or their teachers. You aren’t five years old any more. If you have a problem with someone go and talk with them about it or remain silent. When you do stuff like this it embarrasses everyone so just don’t. (Okay that sounded a little like a lecture. Sorry!)
This is a favorite. Someone I used to know once called in sick to work and then went to the beach for the day. And posted a picture to Facebook at the beach. A co-worker showed it to his manager and he got fired. You shouldn’t lie in the first place but if you do at least be smart enough not to post your fabulous beach day all over the internet when you are supposedly sick.
Post Illegal Activities
When the police show up at your door you only have yourself to blame…
When the police show up at your door you only have yourself to blame… (it bears repeating!)
Ignore Privacy Settings
Realize that at some point anyone might be able to see anything you post online but at least try to lock down your profiles to the best of your ability. Try to make sure that only people you have connected with can see your profile and don’t ever post your address or social security number on social media.
Act Like You Are Perfect
This is the worst. Don’t act like you and your life are perfect and all you ever do is have fun with friends and go out on dates and have all the money you ever wanted and buy brand name clothes and all you ever do is smile because everything is wonderful. Be positive and encouraging but don’t be afraid to be genuine. It will make everyone feel better if you will just be yourself, flaws and all.
In an interesting twist, the guy that got Justine in so much trouble by sharing her tweet posted something himself that later got him in a lot of trouble. After his experience he met with and apologized to Justine, which is nice, but she will forever be remembered for that tweet since it is what comes up when you google search her name.
There are teens out there who have posted questionable things who have gotten their scholarship revoked, gotten kicked out of school and things along those lines that can alter your life forever.
It doesn’t seem right that a teen or any person can have their life ruined by a single sentence or one photo. But it’s the reality we live in so be careful out there!