Digital Footprint

Social Media

To some, the term “digital footprint” might not be a familiar concept, however, I was inspired to share my thoughts on this matter.  Your digital footprint is essentially anything that you post on Facebook, Twitter, your Blog, etc. and even comments you make in response to other’s digital posts. Clearly, we are living in an era of time when we pretty much document every area of our lives…where we are…what we’re doing…what we’re eating…and even how we’re feeling.

Hey, I had a cheeseburger today for lunch!  Other than my doctor knowing that information, that would be a pretty much harmless post.  However, it’s our emotional posts that can really open up pandora’s box.  For example, following a meeting with your boss, you have a few choice, angry words to share about him/her online,  the damage it could cause to your digital footprint could certainly lead to future problems with your boss.

Here are some rules, guidelines, plus a few questions presented, that all of us should follow when it comes to utilizing social media.

  1. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.  If you’re ever in need of a good laugh, check out some of the parody accounts on Twitter about people that have misspelled a word, or misspoke…I would think in most cases, their tweet may have only been published a matter of minutes, before they realized their mistake and then deleted it.  Nevertheless, as soon as that tweet comes across someones twitter feed, and they see it, once they have taken a quick screen shot with their phone, it’s all over.  Whether it’s a mistake or not, once it’s out there, it’s out there.
  2. Does this violate any moral or ethical issues that could be divisive?  I know we’re not going to all get along, but there are few things that rile people up more than a political post, or when you pronounce your moral or ethical stance on something.  I love social media, it’s part of my life, it’s definitely something I enjoy, and something that can be profitable to our social network, however, know that if you post something of a sensitive matter, it’s going to leave a mark, perhaps even a blemish on your digital footprint.  Again, the danger is a future employer researching your digital footprint, and perhaps uncovering something that contradicts their company’s moral or ethical standard.
  3. Could what I post be considered online bullying?  Few things in life irritate me more than bullying.  I have seen comments that people have made on a seemingly innocent picture that someone else posted (this is VERY common with students), and it breaks my heart, to know that someone could be embarrassed, or highly offended because of a rude, insensitive comment.  Participate in online bullying, and this will be a serious blemish on your digital footprint.
  4. Am I breaking any company policy regarding online behavior?  It is becoming more and more common for companies to not only have a policy regarding online usage, but more and more they are closely monitoring what happens.  For example, you call in sick to work, and then post pictures of you hanging out at the mall…uhhhh….not a good idea.  Your boss sees it, because, after all, you’re friends on Facebook…next thing you know, you’re job hunting again.
  5. Could a future employer be reluctant to hire me because of my “online personality”?  Employers are realizing that your digital footprint is just as important as a standard background check.  In fact, it could reveal more about you as an individual than any basic criminal background check!  If it appears, based on some of your Facebook posts, that you’re antagonistic, and often involved in some type of debate or argument online, you might not appear to be a solid team player, or a person that would be a valuable asset to a prospective company.
  6. Will I one day regret what I’m posting? This is why it is best to have a general rule in your life to avoid posting based on your emotions!  Yay!  My team won!  Okay, I don’t believe that will lead to you regretting anything, however, expressing your anger or other emotional responses to things that are happening in your life, could lead to further problems that you have essentially created for yourself.  If you feel strongly about saying or expressing a particular thought or view online, there’s nothing wrong with composing your post, and then waiting an hour, or a day to actually post it.  Who knows, this extra time to contemplate your idea might make the difference in you improving or destroying your digital footprint!

Feel free to add any extra comments below regarding the dangers of social media, and the daily maintenance of our digital footprints.

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