Have an idea for a hilarious joke to post on Facebook? Maybe a prank comment on one of your friends’ statuses? How about a note detailing all the crazy things you and a bunch of friends got into on Saturday night?
Instead, how about not clicking “Post” just yet, and instead rereading what you wrote?
Why Reread? Because It Could Save You a Lot of Pain
Rereading won’t take long. Just for a few seconds, think about how your parents will understand this post, or how your boss will take it. If it’s a joke or prank on a friend, think about how this friend might interpret your words. Is it as funny? Does it make sense to post it now? And, most important of all, would you be comfortable with a potential employer, new friends, or a future significant other seeing this five or six years from now?
The reason I bring this up is because a lot of things get posted on Facebook these days that really shouldn’t be broadcasted. Though writing statuses or notes on Facebook seems harmless, sometimes thoughtless words can get you fired or spark fights (like the Facebook fight over a boy which resulted in a girl’s death).
If You Didn’t Reread Before Posting, You Can Still Delete
We all have things out there on the Internet that represent who we WERE, not who we ARE now–especially if you’ve had an online presence for a long time. But if we don’t delete things that no longer represent who we are, they don’t just vanish into the digital mist; they’re still archived somewhere, and someone may well access it one day much later when it’s embarrassing (or even incriminating) rather than funny or cool.
This is one reason I’ve gone about the Internet deleting and cleaning up my very old profiles. I’ve changed and grown up a lot since I first started using the Internet; I used to curse a lot, for instance. Now that I’m older and more professionally-minded, I don’t want bosses or new friends coming across things I posted that no longer fit my personality, my hopes and dreams, or my ambitions. (I am aware that archives of my old stuff may still exist somewhere on the Internet, but at least my deletions will make it much harder to retrieve.)
So now, before I post anything on the Internet, even blog posts like this one, I stop and think, “Could this possibly get me in trouble someday? Could someone take this the wrong way? How does this reflect on me as a person?” This keeps me from posting a lot of (usually frustrated) statuses that wouldn’t serve any good purpose anyway, and it also keeps me from accidentally offending anyone, which could easily come back to bite me in an uncomfortable bodily region later.
Since so much of our lives are on the Internet these days (even our work and family lives), it’s important to think carefully before posting anything online. This doesn’t mean that we live “fake” lives on social media, but that we just think as much about what we type as what we say in person.