In high school, I was class president and the first thing my advisor told me after I won the election was to be careful as to what I posted on social media. My advisor explained to me that as class president I was expected to present myself in a proper manner both online and offline. Times have changed and now that so many people are involved with social media I have that added responsibility of making sure I don’t post anything problematic online. He continued to explain to me many times individuals forget that what we post online is public for anyone to see whenever they want to and many times what we post online comes back to haunt us. Social media is a place that encourages individuals to express themselves, but the reality is that we have to be very cautious of our audience and what we post. My newly earned status magnified the idea that any little thing posted online can be misinterpreted and bring unnecessary drama as a result.
For example, this youtube video shows a series of small mistakes on social media have cost people everything:
While this video the shows very extreme cases, the idea of being aware of your audience remains the same. My advisor’s advice has been something that has stayed with me for a very long time and my social media are a clear reflection of it. I am currently involved in multiple social media but for the sake of this blog I will only focus on two: Facebook and Snapchat.
By quickly skimming over my Facebook, anyone is able to learn the basic stuff about me such as my hometown, the fact that I am a student at UC Berkeley, and my love for volleyball. The very few statuses that I post are either announcing important news about myself or anything that I have found really interesting. Overall, scrolling through my Facebook Wall means scrolling through a long series of events I marked that I will be attending around campus and videos I reposted because I found interesting. My Facebook is not a very in-depth representation of myself, it is just an overview of my interests and things I am involved with. It is something I want to keep professional because I know that audience consists largely of people I have met in professional environments such as through educational programs and work, along with various adult figures that I respect.
In addition, I know that job recruiters tend to look up their possible employees on Facebook before determining if they want to hire them. I acknowledge that Facebook was not originally intended to be a professional website such as LinkedIn, however, I am aware of my audience and I know that I need present myself in a professional manner.
It’s easy to make fun of Facebook. The depressed stock, the misguided political comments, the unguarded vanity of high school “friends”—all tend to reinforce the inanity of the social network. But a billion people still use it. Even those who complain (like me) still use it. And for large, multinational companies, it’s becoming an increasingly valuable tool for recruiting employees.. – Forbes
My audience on Facebook is much broader than any social media I have, anyone can simply search up my name to find me, and ensuring I am representing myself in a positive manner is critical. Being rejected a dream job because of a silly post on social is the last thing anyone wants.
On the other hand, Snapchat is a different story. Snapchat is a much more in-depth representation of myself. The only way anyone is able to add me on Snapchat is by scanning my phone, putting my phone number, or putting my username, all of which require my consent. In addition, Snapchat posts only last a couple of seconds and Snapchat allows me to monitor who views my posts and who screenshots it.
Snapchat enables users to feel more confident about what is posted therefore I am more willing to send a friend a silly picture of myself than any other social media platform. Taking that into consideration, Snapchat provides me with a platform where I can express more about myself because I am more willing to post more things such as pictures and videos of me being goofy with friends, screaming my lungs out during the football games, or random adventures with friends. Snapchat is more about my day-to-day activities, compared to Facebook that is more of a summary of my life.
“I think snapchat is a platform that allows me to express myself because it only lasts for a couple of seconds so I don’t have to worry as much about it coming back to haunt me.”- Ivan Mozo (A floormate)
Social media has allowed me to present myself in various ways to different audiences. I am not saying that my identity on facebook is not completely different from my identity on Snapchat they just have different tones. While my identity on facebook is more professional, my identity on Snapchat is on a much more personal level.
The idea of having different personalities depending on the social media platform is very similar to the idea of acting differently when we are around our parents compared to when we are around our friends. Being around figures of authority (such as our parents) we are expected to demonstrate higher levels of respect and maturity. However, when we are with friends we are all on the same level and as a result, we act more laid back and silly. It is not a new idea to our society.
Am I lying to myself by acting differently on different social media platforms?
It isn’t that one personality is fake, but much rather that we have different versions of ourselves. Putting ourselves publicly on social media comes with a responsibility of ensuring what we post is appropriate and an awareness of our audience. Everyone does this, whether they realize it or not. Would you post a picture of you drinking at a bar if you knew your boss would see it?
First impressions are everything and for some people, our social media may be their first impression of us and we want to ensure we put our best foot forward. What you post online is on there forever, be smart.