Back in the prehistoric times when I was growing up (and rode a mastodon to school), everyone read newspapers. Not everyone owned a TV (black and white, no color), most owned a radio. But the day-to-day stuff was in the papers. The standard by which we were raised regarding bad behavior was ‘would you want to read THIS about yourself in the NEWSPAPER?’ If you by some amazing chance had your picture in the paper for any good reason, you took pains to look your very best. I don’t ever remember ever seeing mug shots of guys with black eyes and broken noses, or skeevy-looking women who’d left their toddler in the car with the windows up on a hot day. That just wasn’t done.
Now in the age of rampant social media, everyone’s a star. You could be sitting in your own car, minding your own business at a stop light, absentmindedly picking your nose–only to see a video of yourself later on that day as an unwitting star ‘gone viral.’ No one bothers to ask anyone if it’s ok to do this; they just post it. And there you are, in Internet Hell, picking your nose for all technological eternity.
Social media has become the “newspapers” of today. You can post a “selfie” (BTW, I really hate that word; they ought to call it a “selfish-y”–from the ‘it’s all about meeeeeee’ folks) anywhere at any time. We now live in a minefield of endless minutiae. I once belonged to Facebook, and I lasted all of a week. I had thought it would be a good way to advertise my Etsy site (www.janesjools4u.etsy.com), connect with folks with whom I’d lost touch, etc. But no–after I “friended” a few people, I found posts on my wall from people I never heard of–they were friends of the friends I’d friended. The posts ran the gamut from “Dude, the sushi is AMAZING at So-So Sushi on Endicott and Main!” to “Did anyone see Natasha’s gorge dress at Trinity’s last night? OMG!” (Who is Natalie? What does ‘gorge’ mean in social media? Why am I getting these inane posts??) So I ditched Facebook the next day.
Those of us who grew up in non-technical times, the willingness to offer up all kinds of personal information is, well, scary. We tend to think of the long-term effects of things like posting a “selfie” of yourself stoned, drunk and half-naked for the world to see. Perhaps a few years down the road when you are interviewing for a great job, taking the bar exam, perhaps running for office–is that the picture you want your future employer, instructor, constituents family, etc. to see? Also, why in the world would you announce to the world that you’re going away for two weeks and looking forward to “having an AWESOME time??” I am assuming that all the con artists, thieves, etc. just love social media; it makes it incredibly easy to pick their targets.
Unlike the newspaper, which can be read and then burned, thrown out or used for fishwrap, anything on the Internet is FOREVER. I’m just saying: think first, post (or not) later.