The Destructive Nature Of Social Media

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Social media can torpedo your entire life in only 280 characters. Apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram give everyone a voice in positive and negative ways. As a professional, the negative aspect is best left in your own thoughts. Roseanne Barr and Bryan Colangelo are recent examples of these potential pitfalls. Roseanne shared her racist thoughts with the world and immediately lost her network television show. Colangelo is being investigated for five separate anonymous Twitter accounts that are allegedly his. Numerous other celebrities have been in hot water because of a “mistake” they made on social media. Even if you’re hacked, there’s no taking back a stupid thought that could derail everything you’ve built in your career.

Colangelo is the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s in charge of a young, budding NBA team with two superstars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If the allegations are accurate, Colangelo criticized his own players, colleagues and released confidential medical information to the public. He decided to share his negative opinions in a public forum without contemplating the consequences of his actions. If he gets fired, he will regret those posts for the rest of his life. Learn from his (potential) failure; your opinions are much less important than your future.

Stop and think about the consequences of whatever you’re thinking of posting online. Is it offensive? Will it put your co-workers or boss in a negative light? Is it revealing information unfit for public knowledge? If the answer is a yes, put down your iPhone. Social media posts are very different from arguments with your friends. Your friends will stick with you if you make a mistake; current and future employers will judge you more harshly.

Don’t Tweet when you’re out at the bar. If you’re out with your friends, treat social media like your ex’s phone number: leave it alone. Waking up with a hangover is a big enough problem; don’t add to it by reading a critical breakdown of your boss you decided to share with the world the previous night. People make poor decisions when they drink too much. Complaining about the president with your friends brings fewer consequences than sharing that thought with the internet. If you feel the need to share your hottest takes, keep it in your personal, offline circle of friends.

Try to avoid sharing too much personal information on your profiles. While social media is a snapshot of you and your experiences, keep it brief; your social media posts can only hurt your professional profile. Employers won’t fire you for your lovely vacation photography. On the other hand, most employers will frown upon a profile picture of you chugging beers in college. Too much personal information also opens the door for hackers to gain access to your identity, which could cause irreparable financial and personal damage. Use some discretion about what you want strangers on the internet to know about your personal information.

Clean up your old posts immediately after reading this article. The exciting moments you had at a house party as a college freshman do not belong on your current profiles. Potential employers know very little about your personal life; evidence of stupid decisions you made ten years ago can ruin your chances at a new career, regardless of your qualifications. If your social media profiles are a war zone, it shows immaturity, a lack of responsibility, and may paint you in an inaccurate light.

Don’t live on social media. Most people have fallen into a rabbit hole of Facebook videos or Reddit posts for several hours. While inadvisable, it can happen. Overuse of social media is a waste of time; with the numerous hours spent checking out other people’s opinions and feelings, you could be applying for new jobs, working out, or finding other ways to better yourself. Using social media in a professional and moderate manner will help you stay as productive as possible.

Too much time on social media can actually damage your health. According to theresearchpedia.com, “excessive time spent on social networks causes some individuals to experience withdrawal symptoms.” Social media is addicting and can lead to loneliness, anxiety and stress. Excessive social media use also restricts your interpersonal interactions and can affect your hormonal responses, immune system, and mental performance. Social media can damage your career and your physical and mental health.

Learn from the Bryan Colangelos of the world. While this country was built on the rights of freedom, those freedoms are also shared by potential employers. They are free to fire you if you embarrass their image or brand. Nothing on anyone’s social media page is more important than your livelihood. Use these guidelines to police your social media profiles so you can portray yourself as a mature, professional individual. Just like everything else in life, using social media in moderation is the safest practice.