The word ‘transparency’ is thrown a lot in the social media world, a tantalizing buzzword meant to embrace authenticity, or put simply ‘realness’. In terms of brands, companies, and influential professionals, this means being accessible to others by what you share on your media platforms of choice. Put simply, transparency could be characterized as being truthful and genuine to the outside world, or appearing to have nothing to hide.
And transparency is a beautiful thing.
Until it isn’t.
In a 2013 report from Fox Business, it was estimated that Americans in particular spend approximately 16 minutes of every hour on a social media site (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The more readily available social media has become, the faster we embrace it, spending more and more time sharing our lives with the outside world. And this is a great thing in principle, giving us an inside look into some of our favorite celebrities on their own terms separate from the invasive lens of the paparazzi. At a glance, social media enables even the most distant figures of our world accessibility like never before. For example, did you know you could tweet at the pope, the president, and Oprah with just the touch of a button?
There is a Downside
I’m not sure whether our ability to share has prompted us to share more, our defenses have been lowered by promises of confidentiality, or whether younger adopters of social media have less inhibitions, but transparency has shown a darker side to those we share the Internet with. Where before, it was common for users to adopt a ‘if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, don’t share it’ policy, many users now share images that could greatly negatively impact their future careers; drinking pictures from high school and/or college, explicit photos and video, and even viciously hateful remarks about others via Facebook, Twitter, and the newly adopted Snapchat apps.
You may or may not have heard of the app recently applauded as ‘the new instagram’, but if you are a parent, you probably should. The app’s primary function is to send and receive videos and photos, which self-destruct after 10 seconds. As you might imagine, like with the ‘confidentiality’ claims of Facebook, this isn’t entirely true; with the right smartphone, its possible to take a screenshot of a compromising image and publish it to another social media website, often with dire consequences.
If you choose to be transparent on social media, make sure you make smart decisions about what you post, where you post it, and what the implications might be. If you are seeking a job, or maintaining a professional presence, it may be wise to avoid posting compromising photos involving alcohol, illegal activities, or that portray you in a way that could be easily misconstrued. It’s also important to note that ‘protecting’ your tweets on Twitter, creating a ‘limited’ profile on Facebook, and even trusting in Snapchat’s ‘vanishing’ images will not prevent someone from finding images that could put you in a compromising position. The safest way to use social media is by always putting your best face forward and presenting content about yourself and others in the best light possible.
In fact, maybe even show your mom before you post it, because chances are she’ll eventually see it regardless of what privacy settings you have.
Hope this helps! 🙂