Ah, the internet.
The “anonymous, I can be whomever I want and no one will ever know” internet.
Pretty much everyone now-a-days, from the very young to the very old (and even some people’s pets!), have at least one social networking profile, they are a member of at least one online forum, a blogger or a commenter on blogs and so much more that keeps them commenting and posting all of the intimate details of their lives all over the world wide web. The one thing most people don’t think about is how those posts can affect their real lives.
Somehow everyone seems to think that what they write, especially when using a fake/made-up user name, can’t be traced back to them. The internet is a wide open and easily sifted medium where pretty much anyone with the desire and know-how can find out more information about you than you would ever want them knowing. There are even quite a lot of people out there who are paid very well to find out exactly what you are, or have been, doing online… and they are very, very good at their jobs.
I see people constantly posting detailed things about where they are, whether or not they are at home, how long they will be gone, what their children are doing, what the rest of the family is doing, photos that generally shouldn’t have even been taken of all of the important people in their lives, photos of their houses and cars and finally the most damaging, information and photos of illegal or downright poor judgment activities. All of those drunken college parties can come back to bite you in the butt years later while looking for a job.
So, you have to ask yourself, who is looking at all of this information? What does any of what you post have to do with life outside of the internet? How about current or prospective employers? Maybe you apply for a job and the employer does a quick search and finds out that the person who looked so good on paper (via a resume) they come to find likes to take illegal drugs, drinks heavily, parties on work nights, and generally makes very bad judgment calls in many areas of their lives? Do you think you are going to get that job you applied for? If you already have a job, don’t forget that at least one person at your company is looking over the information you are tossing all over the web.
What about someone who has something against you personally? You anger a neighbor or ex-friend or ex-lover and they watch your profile for your posts about how much you are enjoying your vacation and that you will be gone for another few days… What about what your kids are posting? What underage shenanigans are your kids involved in? The “hide profile” button and other security features are actually quite easily circumvented and whatever you post on the internet is pretty much there forever. The only way to truly get rid of those photos or those posts is for the servers containing that information to be wiped clean or be destroyed. You may click that little “delete” button and feel safe… but I guarantee that information isn’t gone.
Don’t get me wrong, social networking isn’t all bad. If done correctly it can link people, companies and communities for mutually beneficial reasons. Just be smart about what you post online.
Your Digital Life Simplified!