Friday, October 18, 2013

The Power of the Internet #Privacy #Regret

Being someone who is constantly watching educational shows and listening to technology podcasts, I understand the Internet extremely well.  I can find almost anything on anyone on the web by simply understanding how to search for it.

What is so concerning is that young people don't understand that what they put on the Web stays on the Web.  Whether it's on the Internet or the Deep Web, it's out there never to truly vanish.  A photo or a comment that someone only wants to direct to a small group could be accessed by the public at any given moment and we forget that.

I remember when I was extremely active on Facebook.  I would argue politics, relationships, and other topics ad nauseam with my Friends not knowing it could come back to bite me some day.  I didn't want to lose out on a job because of something that I said on a social network.  People don't believe that companies search social media accounts of candidates, but I have a relative who did that on her job before she recently retired.  So, it's very real and she's told me some horror stories about it.

Although I knew better, like most people, I said that "it would never happen to me."  I had to ditch that attitude and I did.  I realized that I was getting caught up in the moment so I stopped.  I completely changed my ways.  I'm very selective with my online comments now because I'm refocused on the fact that people are watching.  It doesn't mean that I don't speak my mind because some things need to be said.  But, it does mean that I'm not "out there with it."

You'll never see me post provocative photos of myself, use curse words, or publicly humiliate someone on social media.  But, a lot of people under 30 years old don't seem to understand that and it's up to people who know better to teach them.

The YOLO generation views the internet as a place of conversation and not a place of "evidence."  That's why so many idiots have been convicted of crimes based on things they posted online.  That's why so many relationships have ended because someone was stupid enough to put something incriminating in print.  That's why so many lives are ruined because someone thought that a sex pic sent to a crush wouldn't wind up in a Google search.

So, my message to everyone out there who reads my blog: talk to the young loved ones in your life.  I don't mean in a passing conversation.  I mean to sit down and have a serious discussion about how anything they put online or even in a text message is subjected to public scrutiny.  It may actually save someone from future heartache.  Times are hard enough for the younger generation to find their way through life.  The last thing they need is something they did/said hanging over their heads.

Don't get it twisted, young people... The Internet can break you.

How do you prevent people from using social media as self-esteem booster or electronic therapist?


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