By Joi Donaldson
I’m of the millennial generation where we kept a heavily curated Top 8 (except for Tom). We haphazardly taught ourselves to code because our MySpace pages had to play music when you arrived. We existed in a time where the Internet was a thing and what you posted didn’t hold much weight (or so we thought). Now, in 2018, with the prevalence of troll accounts, encryption and advanced facial recognition, resting on that embarrassing photo being buried does more harm than good. Here are some tips on posting, curation and, if need be, damage control.
Mind Your Content
We live in the age of the social media influencer. It’s now easier than ever to create a platform built on skill, talent, comedy, beauty, gaming, etc at any age. If you’re good at it, there’s an audience waiting to learn, and you’re the perfect person to deliver. With that said, the spotlight of near-instant stardom can shine too brightly and content can get away from you. As we’ve seen with many-a-YouTuber choosing Edgelord antics over common sense, best to air on the side of safe. Safe doesn’t have to mean boring - by all means, create compelling posts and engage with your friends, fans and audiences. But know the differences between them. And try not to let any high praises lead you to questionable posting.
Know Your Platform
From Snapchat to Instagram to Twitter, there’s space to open dialogue, share your cool experiences and connect with like-minded people. This also leaves room to get lost in a sea of retweets and replies. Luckily, many platforms now allow you to untag photos, mentions and pages. Depending on the site, it’s as simple as heading to the settings menu. For others, there’s a bit more legwork. For instance, Snapchat currently doesn’t allow for profile untagging but you can reach out to the OP and ask to be removed. With Twitter, it’s a bit harder. Research how best to protect yourself, your photos and your words online per platform. Be diligent. If you don’t want to have that embarrassing photo or screenshot on the interwebs, take charge of where you end up as best you can. Ask that any photos of you be taken on your phone, ask to review all photos taken within a group and be sure what is being shared has your approval. Some may say you’re doing too much, but ensuring any harmful or cringe-worthy content doesn’t see the light of day is worth the hassle.
Take Care of Yourself IRL
Sometimes photos, posts and social capital gets away from us - a friend may have captured you in a not-so-flattering moment and tagged you because they thought it would be funny. A screenshot, text or DM may have leaked. Worst, you may have been hacked and your most private images are now up for viewing. Cyberbullying is a real and disheartening occurrence we don’t often think about until we are the target. Many middle and high school students have borne the brunt of becoming a meme due to one person’s actions, intentional or not. If this has happened to you, one of the most important things is to mind your mental health.
Talk to people you trust. Share your feelings.
Make your pages private and disable comments.
Create as safe a space as you need.
If you’re able to, work to build an offensive by getting ahead of any photos or content as best you can. Be honest with your words and intentions.
Contact your phone carrier and explain the breach if one occurred.
In the case of bullying, contact authorities.
In this digital age, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the hands of those who aren’t aware. There’s also so much that goes right in the hands of the prepared. So please, by all means, post your things - your funny, impressive, honest things. Just remember that the internet remembers everything.