Powerful But Dangerous

Dave Cook, Career Counselor 

NE MN Office of Job Training 

A coworker stumbles on your computer which is open to your Facebook page. They read a few things and post “HACKED” on your timeline and walk off. Another person spies your smartphone and sees your Twitter account is open and tweets “Never leave your phone alone @localbar #luckyImnotpsycho.” Maybe it is your Instagram account which is open and available – the picture shared from your account is #NSFW. One of the problems with social media is that it is about what you said, not what you meant. When you quit paying attention to your privacy you run the risk of others speaking for you.

Online privacy is a misnomer – there really is no privacy online. However, there is common sense. Here are a few points to consider about security and appropriateness:

  • Log off from your accounts, especially when accessing any accounts from public computers. For many people, logging off of their desktop or laptop is second nature. However, many people forget to log off of social media apps on your phone.
  • Make sure that your privacy settings are set appropriately – for each social media site. Check in the help section of each site to help you understand all the options and how they work together.
  • Remember that context, insinuation, sarcasm, and dry humor do not translate well electronically. In social media it is what you said, not what you intended to say.
  • Swearing – even in text language can come back to haunt you. Constant swearing shows a lack of grace. Use your vocabulary to communicate – even on Twitter and Instagram #stopcussing.

All social media communication is public. Never forget the words you use and the pictures you post are available to everyone. Make your choices wisely. At some point in the future a prospective employer is going to “Google” you. They will find your online presence. What will it say about you? Will you be interesting and fun, or unpolished and tacky?

You should have an online presence. Have fun, share things with your family and friends – create professional content for others in your field. Just remember that social media is like the Wild West – vast, largely uncharted, powerful and full of potential, but dangerous for people who lack common sense.

Finally, different social media sites have unique features for customers to use. Terms like friend, like, hashtag, #, and blog are making their way into our everyday communications, however, not everyone knows what they represent in the social media world. Use them as much as possible, but make sure they add to your story and not detract from it.

Be Awesome!!


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