It is true that social media platforms can suck your time like a vampire turning you into an ethereal zombie wandering in the post-Internet’s waste land. Furthermore, they have the power to expose you to the pleasures of experiencing a thousand and one nights of pain and to bring you ridicule by your ex or even spin your moral compass so fast that it might stunt your emotional growth that of a whole generation. Still, those are problems for later decades and a different generation.
For the rest of us, using social media networks bears some serious risks to our lives, and no I’m not talking about that “life” where you went broke playing Texas Hold’em and you would have to wait 24 hours before you can carry on with your addiction. I’m talking about risks that would directly impact your financial, legal, or health and might cause irreparable damage to any or all of those.
Honestly, all joking aside, how much time do you spend thinking about the repercussions of anything you do on social networks?
The sad reality is that while websites like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter allowed us to be closer to people we care about it, they also allowed our enemies to be even closer! Now that might be a paranoid outlook on your newly discovered social popularity but with so much information about us available on the web it became virtually impossible to maintain any form of privacy or exclusivity of information.
In the past your slips and screw-ups would have been gone by the wind by the end of the conversation, or perhaps they are nostalgically looked upon amongst friends. Now with your every action photographed, commented on and produced on the web, we became cursed with immortality! One Google search and you will have to relive the horror over and over again, would you like to be the next Numa Numa? Or perhaps a web starlet ? Hell even a half-joking criticism of someone could pinch your pockets for $50,000, if you are not careful!
The fact of the matter is that we can’t help but leave our foot print on the Internet, and especially in social networks. What we can do is try to alleviate the effect and be careful about what information we leave out open to the public.
Some tips to help you achieve that is by always working on a “need to know” basis. Does AplusK69 who lives in Nigeria who has a cousin dying from cancer need to know your home phone number?
Common sense dictates that there are at least 6 things you should never share publicly, your social security number, your home address, your home/private phone number, you passwords and PIN’s, and your birth date – although day and month are generally fine if you expect to receive birthday gifts from your Facebook “friends”.
Learn how to use the privacy settings to restrict such information, here is an excellent tutorials for Facebook. Sadly, Twitter exists in a black and white world where you either share everything or nothing. No one, other than an identity thief, is interested in knowing everything there is to be known about you.
Try to always ask yourself “What Would I Do In Real Life (WWIDIRL) ?” Think about it this way, what would be the effect of putting a neon sign on your front lawn saying “On vacation till the 25th” … yeah I thought so too, so why put it on your public profile that has your home address?
You might think this is all very silly, it’s not! Breaking news after breaking news proved to us that we still don’t know the full impact of adopting the open book lifestyle. Mason Cooley’s prophetic words couldn’t ring truer; “The time I kill is killing me“.
So just how safe are you?