Have you ever googled yourself? You might be surprised by what comes up.
Historians will tell you assumptions about cultures and events based off of what evidence is left behind, such as cave paintings. This is what history is,”the bodies of knowledge about the past produced by historians”. The same thing is likely to happen in the future, with historians making assumptions based off the evidence left behind by our society. But instead of rocks and paintings, we will leave behind a new kind of evidence- technology. What we do with this technology now and how we interact using this technology now will have major impact on not only our society today but how our society is perceived tomorrow.
But it’s not just our whole society that needs to be taken into consideration. Social media has boomed in the recent years and a study from the University of Michigan suggests that Facebook leads to being unhappy. Today colleges and employers check social media and your digital footprint when going through their hiring and accepting process. Your digital footprint “is the body of data that exists as a result of actions and communications online that can in some way be traced back to an individual.” Scholarship providers who responded to a survey sent by the National Scholarship Providers Association reports that a quarter of scholarship providers in 2011 used social media to check out applications. They most commonly look for behavior that could reflect badly on the scholarship provider, including underage drinking, illegal drug use, provocative pictures or racial slurs, as well as searching for verification of information on the application.
If you have a stable job now you should still be concerned because what you post online can also get you fired. Gilbert Gottfried, commonly known as the voice of the Aflac duck, made a joke at the expense of Japanese tsunami victims and found himself out of a job less than an hour after the joke was posted online. Florida teacher Olivia Sprauer had her provocative modeling photos posted on Facebook and was asked to resign. Another teacher in Denver, Carly Mckinney had a questionable twitter in which she expressed her opinion about how much she liked to smoke weed and her opinion about her hot students. She was placed on administrative leave and eventually fired. Another employee of Suisse was fired for being on Facebook when she had called in sick. Facebook has also led to inappropriate and illegal relationships between students and teachers and has also led to the termination of employment.
Organizations are unlikely to change their behavior regarding online presence. The change must be individual in which awareness and self consciousness is increased concerning the implications of online behavior. Important factors to consider when posting online are to stop comparing yourself to others, be authentic, and make sure that your online persona is aligned with your offline persona. Your time and effort should not be spent trying to create this perfect image of yourself that doesn’t align with reality. Social media for more social purposes should be discussed as well. On the other hand, there are respectable organizations who have taken their time and posted tips to creating the perfect online profile. The very concept of this is deceiving and dishonest. These tips include avoiding the mention of God, what sexuality and what gender should selfie and who should not, not to post about karaoke, and to learn how to surf. In following these tips and using this to craft and shape this perception of you, you lose grasp of yourself and your individuality online and your digital persona does not match up with your offline persona, making meeting in person and that first date awkward for all of those involved.
So I suggest you go google yourself.
Whatever comes up is what employers and colleges and scholarship providers can see and the online information you find is what information they use to make assumptions of your personality and character. The relationship between online and offline behavior is often a complex and confusing situation. The best advice that I have been personally given in relation to how you should behave online is simply to think before you post and think about how people will perceive you based off of what you post. In the same way that historians make judgments based off the evidence left behind by old civilizations, organizations look at the evidence you leave behind digitally and make judgments based off of that evidence. That intoxicated and provocative selfie from spring break may lead to the termination of your employment, along with that tweet you posted about how you hate your boss or that Instagram post showing illegal substance use. Some may argue that working so hard to make yourself appear perfect online and a match up between online and offline personality may also be as deceptive as learning to surf to get more dates on tinder. In that case, another option is to take precautions with online privacy settings. Your friends and online groups should be taken in consideration as well as what people post online about you.