That is the question.
In this day and age of social media, we can invite people into our lives with a single tap on our smartphones. We don’t need to write journals to let others know what we’re up to. We can document our every move: from what we wear and what we eat, to what movies we like and where we have been.
While this may seem like a great and easy way to connect with others, it has its dangers; for example, the obvious dangers of intrusion of privacy and the “Too Much Information” (TMI) zone. You can control your privacy settings which can reduce your intrusion of privacy to some degree, but if your profile is public, what you share is also public. You can also control your TMI zone, not everything you do needs to be shared.
Of course, what people post isn’t always accurate or reflective of whom they are really as a person, but even if it is obviously untrue it can still yield some information about the person. My personal favorite is when I see students who list that they work at “MakeThatCashMoneyInc” or even “Manchester United”. If you don’t have a job, then don’t list that you have one.
While checking your social media profile might not be a priority for an admissions or scholarship committee or internship organization, you never know. Therefore, I want to just re-iterate some simple common sense rules of social media etiquette. They aren’t earth shattering but with the kind of social media interaction we see, it’s worth bringing up again. General rule of thumb, imagine your grandparents/church pastor reading your profile, will it make them blush? Let’s start with the don’ts:
- Use a ridiculous name (example: Steven “Don’tYouWantSome” Smith).
- Have an inappropriate profile picture. You don’t have to be in a shirt and tie, but keep it clean. However, if you are joining LinkedIn, then use a professional look picture.
- Post links to inappropriate websites .
- Like pages that are obviously inappropriate.
- Post updates with profanity, even if your team lost or someone insulted you. Just don’t.
- Comment inappropriately on other people’s updates. Remember, even if your settings are personal your comments can show up on the web.
- Post poorly written comments/questions on university official pages.
- Keep your social media profile clean.
- Review your privacy settings if you don’t want to hinder your “self-expression” because “that’s who I am” is your excuse.
- Always maintain professionalism when you are communicating with an institution on social media.
- Understand that comments and updates about institutions by other people are going to be biased on their experience. So if you read a post that states “I love/hate X university”, don’t assume that university is good/bad. Context and personal experience matter.
Use these simple guidelines to shape your social media presence positively. Happy posting and sharing!