Aberrant Maia

Social media is not your safe space

Social Media written in colourful design

We live in an age where social media has been ingrained into our society so that even work, personal life, and schooling sometimes revolve around it. Since its inception, our lives have become more public and private moments now have the spotlight. Especially in this social distancing period, a plethora of people are using social media more often. However, I am here to break the news to you that social media is not your safe space.

When on social media, we are behind a screen and not face-to-face with the people we are interacting with. This sense of ‘invisibility’ can empower us to be reckless in the content we post and can be detrimental in the long run. It is tempting to post provocative and inappropriate photographs or videos, media of excessive drinking or the usage of illicit drugs or publish discriminatory comments.

As the world is evolving, more and more companies are using a person’s online presence during their recruitment process. Just think about it. When you are applying for a job, you go online and research about the company. Why won’t the company do the same pertaining to you? They need to know what kind of person you would be off the job and how that may harm or promote the company. People have missed out on job opportunities due to their lackadaisical attitude on social media. Others have lost their jobs after posting compromising content or ranting about their job.

You may think that you are safe because your account is private, and you may not have many followers. A private story on Snapchat or a private account on Twitter is not truly private. Don’t forget the power of screenshots. You might be wondering what the big deal is, since you could always delete anything you have posted. Hypothetically speaking, yes, you can delete it. However, those who sustain databases tend to use a ‘hide’ function instead of the delete function when you request for an item to be deleted. Instead, all data related to that item would be hidden from searches. Why do they do this? Deleting can result in a force re-index, and if it is a large database, this can slow down some systems and make them not operative for a while[1]. Even if your item is truly deleted, you can’t guarantee that somebody has not screenshotted it.

That reckless tweet or picture may be understood in your circle of friends; people that know you well. Nonetheless, not everybody knows you personally. Usually, these people would not know that you just meant that comment in jest or that you are a naturally playful person, so that is not something they should take seriously. Words posted can easily be misconstrued because the tone of the message may be wrongly conveyed, making your comment seem more offensive than it is. Furthermore, let me be brutally honest with you. People don’t care like that. That online fight you are engaged in is simply entertainment for them, and when the next exciting thing comes along, they have moved on. However, the receipts are still available, ready to be retrieved whenever the need be.

Remember, your reputation is one of your greatest assets, and a good reputation can take you to places. Despite this, an outstanding reputation can be shattered in a matter of seconds due to something you posted online. No matter how many good things you did beforehand or after, it may not be salvaged because bad news travels faster than good news. Reputations are not only built in-person but online too, so do your best to cement a solid reputation both off and online.

I’m not a mere bystander because I too have been hasty in some of the content I have posted. However, I value my future, and I hope you do too, so from henceforth, think before you post. “Social media is not your safe space,” as one of my friends recently told me.

[1] https://www.quora.com/Is-anything-ever-really-deleted-from-the-internet

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