Sloppy social media use bad for you and your resume

It’s Friday night. And this particular week has been long, busy and stressful. You want to throw your backpack in the deepest, darkest corner of your room and not see or touch it again until Sunday — or preferably until never.

Your good friend George had a rough week as well. You both decide to kick off the weekend at Joe’s and soon the night becomes a little rowdier than you planned. The following Monday, leave it to good old George to have posted a Facebook photo of you.

In the photo, you are sprawled on the ground wearing last year’s Halloween costume, gently cradling a bottle of Jack Daniels. Your social media popularity soars as the Facebook photo reaches 60 likes.

However, it might not all be worth it in the end because that photo was seen by way more people than you wanted it to. And let’s just say you probably aren’t going to get that job you applied for.

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, an increasing number of employers — up to 63 percent — are using social media sites to judge potential employees. While this isn’t new knowledge to any college students, it is a fact that has contributed to creating our online personas.

Regardless of the fact that employers are looking at our Facebook pages, we should still be conducting ourselves in a tasteful manner online. The ways in which we conduct ourselves on the Internet is important in many different realms.

Our motives on Facebook are usually either to portray a certain image of ourselves or to differentiate ourselves by coming off as unique.

Obviously we are not all going to upload unflattering pictures we have taken. We don’t always consciously choose to post pictures where all five of our chins are visible. And for the most part, we don’t post all 100 of our — I would say — shameful selfies.

We aim to portray ourselves in the most positive light that we can.

Our social media pages should act as our social resumes.

We are constantly editing, deleting and posting things that are relevant to and representative of who we are in a way that is appealing to our social media friends. Granted, my idea of displaying my perfect online portrait is posting corny jokes that only a five year old could appreciate, as well as quotes from “The Office” — but that’s just me.

Some might say that by constantly tweaking our profiles to make us look a certain way we aren’t representing a true, honest version of who we are. But why should your Facebook profile be a mirror image of who you are in real life anyway?

If you are actually able to capture the very essence of every fiber of your being on a Facebook profile, then you are doing life wrong. Unless we are completely changing our identities or pulling a “Catfish” by fooling people into believing we are someone that we are not, then refining our online selves shouldn’t be a problem.

A big indicator of our Facebook identity comes from pictures.

I particularly enjoy Facebook on Sunday nights as photos of people’s weekend trickle in and I get to laugh and cringe at the captured moments of a night that was just a little too fun. With that in mind, posting appropriate pictures, statuses and comments should be part of our online refinement process. Especially because we tend to forget that we are Facebook friends with a random assortment of relatives and other adults who act as our parents’ spies.

While, yes, we do have this virtual medium to present ourselves in any way we like, we need to be conscious of how much we let people see, because it can lead to unintended vulnerability.

And this is not to say that we can’t take those goofy, classless photos and laugh at the expense of our friends, but a social network — where potentially thousands of people can see your profile and use your information — is not necessarily the right venue for that.

Put all of the horrible, trashy pictures you have into your own personal scrapbook that you can bring out in the privacy of your own home and embarrass your friends face-to-face.

There’s a right place and a right time to show your true colors — and not all of your colors should go online.

Ultimately, Facebook and other social media are fun and interactive forums where we can share and connect with our friends. But at the same time, we do not need to put every detail, thought and photo from our life online for others to see — especially because of how many different people are able to access this information.

If we are already conducting ourselves appropriately online, then it shouldn’t matter that employers are looking at our Facebook profiles. We should be able to confidently log into our social media accounts without the threat of heavy criticism breathing down our necks.

Nicki is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]