Anti Social Media

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve posted about social media before, so it is no surprise to say that Paris Brown gets some of my sympathy.

Imagine being 17 years old, casually Tweeting your thoughts to your mates, and a year later holding a post as a youth Police Crime Commissioner in Kent, where your words are regarded as anything but casual.  Talk about making your growing up mistakes in public.


Many of us are learning the hard way that Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and their peers are not transient media.  It is difficult to put a favourable context on what Paris Brown said.  She got it wrong.  An apology after the fact for ‘any offence that I have caused’ sounds increasingly like damage limitation.  Deleting the Tweets won’t mean they will be forgotten.  Bottom line, it is difficult, but not impossible, to erase a digital history.


In a sign of the times the British Library is to store some social media output for posterity.  Perhaps every social media user needs to act on a simple goal: to use their chosen medium in way that would reflect their personal brand positively, if what they wrote was to be saved by the British Library.

Digital footprints

I’ve blogged about thoughtful use of social media before – most recently in the October 2012 post In Cyberspace Not Everyone ‘Likes’ You  – however a spate of recent stories caught my eye.


Black Eyed Peas anyone?

Black Eyed Peas anyone? (Photo credit: Twitchietai)

First, there is the revelation that seemingly innocuous ‘Likes’ on Facebook can reveal much more personal detail than users imagine.  According to a Cambridge University  study, quoted in the press, important facets of one’s personality such as social standing; religious identity; even sexual orientation are – supposedly – discernible from what users say on the platform.


Then there is the sobering thought that if you get into a virtual feud with someone on Twitter they may very well track you down, for a very real confrontation.  If in doubt look at what boxer Curtis Woodhouse did to confront the critic who mocked him on line.


Finally, there is recognition that young people are savvy consumers of new media but are not necessarily skilled in producing it.  Former Black Eyed Peas vocalist has donated £500,000 of his own money to the Prince’s Trust to support the development of young people’s knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the STEM subjects) where skills are lacking.


Unless we choose not to have a digital presence, these stories indicate we should carefully decide just how we manage our online life.  They also nudge us to develop our relationship to new media / technology so that we keep up to date as they grows in influence.

In Cyberspace Not Everyone ‘Likes’ You

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I tried explaining social networking to an older relative recently.  It’s based on identifying yourself on the internet, I said.


There was a sharp intake of breath from across the table.


My relative wasn’t sure about the risks of putting information about yourself out into the ether, for others to see.  He asked, ‘Won’t people know too much about you’?


On reflection I, sort of, see his point, although if you don’t put yourself out there the potential for changing your situation is pretty limited.


These days for work, or professional reasons it is sensible to have a Linked In profile.  If a portfolio career appeals it might even be the key to researching new opportunities, which may mean you can develop your future by trading on existing skills.


The online edition of American magazine Ebony has an interesting article, with something to say about that subject.  In particular I like their idea that You Can See What You Need to Get What You Want’.


If you set store by finding out more about people who have been there and done that (actually used social media to their advantage), you might want to look at Rich Jones web site concerning professional steps in the virtual world.


Blogging is an option too.  Finding a topic about which you are passionate and writing about it via WordPress, Blogger, or another platform.  It is always nice to have people read and even follow what you write, but it may take some time to get your readership beyond single figures.


Twitter is a third avenue, creating a small you-shaped virtual niche.  It also makes for concise communication as a limit of 140 or fewer characters applies.


It is a very quick way of getting your message distributed too.  Although recent events involving Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand, illustrate why speed isn’t always helpful.  Frankly it is idea to think first and tweet later.


There are a billion users on Facebook too, so that might be a harder arena in which to get your voice heard.


Whichever route appeals it is also worth remembering something friends working in Human Resources have mentioned to me.  Some employers do keep tabs on identifiable social media accounts.


Even if they do not have an official policy about employees’ media usage, or even if you are not yet working for them, they may be very interested in what you have to say and the way you say it.


That is worth thinking about if you are used to frank speaking online and you don’t want something you said ages ago, concerning a topic about which you are passionate, counting against long after you had forgotten saying it.