Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – who doesn’t use it? Most people now are using at least 1 form of social media to stay connected and/or reconnect with friends and family members. We link to articles we read, “like” pages we find interesting, post jobs that we have, and of course upload tons and tons of pictures to share.
Once almost exclusively a way to stay in touch with people you knew, social media has morphed into a method of networking – both personal and professional. While the benefits of social media are clear to most, the dark side of social media is a little less transparent. Read about the Good (which you likely already know),the Bad (which you should be aware of for the future) and the Ugly (dangerous or detrimental uses) of social media.
- Reconnect: Remember that brilliant kid who used to sit next to you in high school chemistry? Too bad you didn’t get his email when you went off to college, because he would definitely know how to help you figure out how to pass Organic Chemistry. Enter social media! Just type in his name to Facebook or LinkedIn and you will likely be able to find him in less than 5 minutes. Send him a message and you are well on your way to a higher GPA.
- Stay In Touch: You were just offered your dream job! But it is all the way across the country, meaning you will have to leave your friends behind. Luckily, social media allows you to keep in touch with your beloved friends even from 3,000 miles away. With the click of a button you can discover what is going on in their lives and leave them a message professing how much you miss them.
- Make New Friends: So you just moved across the country and left your friends behind. Sure, you have social media to keep in touch, but what are you supposed to do on Friday and Saturday nights when your friends are all out with each other? Social Media to the rescue! There are many ways to meet new friends on a social media site: be introduced by mutual friends, join activity groups, or participate in dating pages. Try one!
- Share Life: Did your friend just have a baby? Did your college roommate just have a beautiful destination wedding? Are your parents going on a trip to Europe without you? You want to share in all these experiences, but how? The Answer: Social Media. Pictures can be posted anytime of the day or night. They can be added to albums, shared on walls, or sent out in mass.
- Professional Networking: Some social media sites allow or are designed for users to share information about education, employment, skills, and interests, enabling companies to seek out individuals for open positions. Often these more professional social media outlets also have some sort of job search component where seekers can apply directly through the site and use their profile as a resume.
- What Happens on the Internet Stays on the Internet: Unfortunately, once something is posted on the internet, it is nearly impossible for it to be removed. So that picture of you hungover after your 21st birthday is probably still floating around somewhere. The best way to keep that stuff private is to never post it in the first place.
- I Spy: With just a few stokes on a key pad and a little maneuvering, you can find out a great deal about someone, but that means they can do the same for you. Be careful what you post in the first place, and keep your security settings high because at least this will be a deterrent, although by no means a failsafe. Unflattering posts may prevent you from being accepted into a school or being offered a job.
- Scams and Thieves: Some people post so much information about themselves that they might as well publicize their social security number under a post heading that reads: Please Steal My Identity. Scammers and identity thieves are looking for easy targets and the more they know about you, the easier it is for them to fake being you.
- Tracking: Everyone from parents to the US government is using social media to track people. All those check-ins you make at the movie theaters might get you in trouble with your parents, but information about employment or income might get you in trouble with the IRS, INS or other government agencies.