Is Social Media Keeping You Honest or Making You Unsafe?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but even more so especially with articles like ‘Is Twitter Making You Immoral’ and ‘Nike iPod = Surveillance’ popping up.

Many professionals – and students – are creating new profiles for Facebook efforts, be they professional or academic. I’ve stumbled across several students and colleagues who have multiple profiles such as this. In Facebook it makes me wonder if people really understand (or set!) their many privacy settings.

In Twitter, I understand this more. As the masses join to see ‘what this Twitter thing is’, like it or not, more people you know are following you. Then, there comes a choice: to clean up your tweets or to go dark and create a new profile for being ‘you’.  :)

I had conflicting thoughts on this as more and more people followed me and wanted to be Facebook friends, I wondered about the potential set backs. Mom reading your Facebook shenanigans. Dates becoming stalkers. Co-workers bringing up your frequent love of BK Whoppers w/cheese  at 2am. Muddy waters.

Personally, I’ve decided that I’m ok with keeping my business out there and letting the chips fall where they may. Obviously, I set privacy settings and profile limitations for co-workers and those that I know outside of professional ways where available. But, as per the rest, my decision is to be ‘me’. I find I learn more that way and have much deeper relationships with those that I may not know ‘IRL’.  In order to get anything out of social media, I feel, you cant remain professional with no personality. I am more than just my job.

Muddier waters come with the other social communities surrounding activities. Do you want everyone to know you run a certain loop every morning at 5am via your iPod Nike Plus  or imapmyrun? Hmm. Maybe your Facebook pictures are at your favorite local place and people could just ‘show up’. Your iPhone displays your location via Loopt or Twitter. Food for thought, but not for worry.

Or is it? The fear of pedophiles on MySpace, and the  ‘Craigslist Killer‘ fiasco it leaves a stain on social media in a sense. For those who use the net to meet people – no matter what the venue – it feeds the fear of those who dont understand it.  Are these isolated, well publicized issues really as scary as they seem or are they more visible now due to our instant connection to news? How many similar incidents are occurring that have no net related implication?

I guess the bottom line here is to be authentic and safe. What are your thoughts on openness vs. anonymity and safety vs fear?

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3 thoughts on “Is Social Media Keeping You Honest or Making You Unsafe?

  1. Couldn’t believe the Craigslist Killer is from Upstate New York. And nearby Sherrill, no less! But let’s face it … you have a better chance of getting killed going to the mall than you do Craiglisting.

    One thing I value about social media is its transparency and honesty. That’s why people kneejerk when they read Guy Kawasaki has ghostwriters or established bloggers get paid by corporations for mentions. With TV shows and movies, we’re used to product placement and Milli Vannilli having someone sing their tunes, and we’re numb to it. Here in social media, still terra incognita, selling out can inspire outrage. That should tell us something.

    As for me, because of who follows me there are tweets I’ve withheld. But you know what, in the long run learning a little bit of discretion and constraint is a good thing.

  2. If it’s not POSITIVE and doesn’t add to the community then I just avoid it. Now does this mean that I can’t be stupid, fun, and silly absolutely not, but that does mean no badmouthing someone or something that I would be embarrassed that my mom found out about and that could really offend someone. Actually that is why it is completely ok to make fun of yourself because it’s better than picking on someone else and hurting their feelings.

  3. This is a good read! You bring up two great topics: 1. do you present yourself personally or professionally? and 2. should you be worried about your safety for putting everything out there? – two points I’ve definitely spent some time thinking about.

    Kyle’s point is smart – what you post is a representation of you in many respects, but it still leaves room for personality.

    I’m all about putting myself out there but more recently (after someone recently grabbed my pics off a photo site of my family and created a fake myspace account w/ them and started emailing me) I’ve become more cautious about not mentioning specific details like when I’m home alone, giving away details to a hotel I’m staying at, or taking pictures of house numbers. It’s a huge bummer to have to even worry about censoring these types of things – if only the world had less creepers!

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