Social networking sites encourage users to provide a certain amount of information. For example, Facebook has a pop-up that repeatedly asks users to “complete their profile” if any information – name, living situation, date of birth, or photos – is left blank. I have been very tempted to reveal these personal details on my profile simply to get rid of the annoying pop-up. Facebook claims that if I provide the network with more information, my Facebook connections and overall experience will be enhanced.
But I’m not looking for a more enhanced social networking experience, I use Facebook to interact with others, pass time, and stay up to date with what my “friends” are doing. I tend to keep my profile very private by sharing a limited amount of personal information. I am often concerned with who is reviewing my profile, and the fact that once you post something, it is easily accessible and remains online forever. Future employers, professors, and family members do not need to be aware of what bar I went to last weekend or how many drinks I had based on my tagged photos and statuses; therefore I choose to rarely update my profile regarding any daily activities, and limit who can see my posts. For example, confirmed “friends” are the only individuals able to view my profile.
Each media platform allows users to disclose different information. More often than not, I use social networking sites to promote myself professionally, while staying connected to both nearby and distant friends.
Facebook allows users to create a list of “friends,” update their status, send messages, and comment on other users’ content. In high school, I’d define myself as an avid user of Facebook. After school I would log onto my account to see what everyone was up too, chat with my friends, and most of all, waste time. Nowadays I use Facebook mainly for group projects, and messaging, but also occasionally for birthdays and events. I hardly ever post photos, statuses, or wall posts, unless they are deemed appropriated for everyone to see.
Compared to Facebook, I am a much more active Twitter user. Twitter allows users to freely express what’s on their mind in about 140 characters. My account includes a picture of myself, as well as a brief biography (as shown below). Neither of these two things giveaway information that could potentially be used against me.
I find I am very open with my thoughts and ideas on the Twitter machine. I don’t see Twitter as a threat to my personal identity; therefore I post whatever I want (within reason of course). The newsfeed is updated so regularly that if someone disagrees with one of my posts, they are unlikely to be able to find it and make a comment.
On a more positive note, Twitter is very valuable for making connections with organizations. I often tweet at companies to win free products, or ask questions. I’ve noticed I do type with a different voice depending on whom I’m tweeting. For example, if I’m tweeting @BrockUniversity I make sure to be clear, concise, and use proper grammar, whereas if I was replying to a friend I may lack these things.
As for LinkedIn, I have to admit I do not have an account, but I’m aware that it is an online space where users post their resume and create connections with professionals. I am often told that creating a LinkedIn account is like taking the first steps towards your future. On LinkedIn users share their work experience, a brief bio, and contact information. Once I properly format my resume I plan on becoming a member. I want to be discovered by an agency or professional as soon as possible, so I plan on leaving my profile on a low privacy setting. Heck, I’m proud of my previous work experience and achievements, so why not show it off!
I find my presentation of self and online persona do indeed fall within the same scope. Whoever decides to view my social networking profiles are pretty much seeing the same Riah they would if we had met in person. Sure, I could spend more time updating my Facebook, but as of now that is not a main priority.
I can’t help but think about the television show “Catfish” where individuals lie about their identities, yet hope to find love. People on this show post pictures of other people as them, and use a voice that matches their image to attract others. I can’t believe people can live with themselves leading someone on thinking they’re one person, but being another.
I personally don’t have the time or commitment to be someone other than myself in the online world. I’m not one to hide behind my computer and publish posts just to receive attention and responses. I know many people who are like that, that sit on the computer for hours posting thoughtless statuses to be seen as “cool.”
When searching for jobs in the future I plan on giving my social networking sites a quick clean up. I am not ashamed of who I am, if someone has a question regarding one of my profiles, I’ll gladly discuss that with them and take action if needed. Come to think of it, some of my photos and posts from the past don’t necessarily need to be made public, and could probably be deleted. I plan on leaving some pictures up from when I’m not at work or school to show off my personality and that I like to have fun!
I look forward to creating a LinkedIn account; I feel that profile will represent me the most accurately. A headshot, biography and resume is all the information LinkedIn asks for, and I am willing to provide. With this profile I wish to showcase who I am, what I’m about, and make connections for the future.
The kind of surveillance that is looking at my online persona somewhat feeds into the criteria about what I reveal. If I could remove all of my tagged photos from previous years in University, trust me I would. But those photos are online to stay, and someone is bound to come across them. My parents and friends often know what I’m up to, so I’m not as concerned with what they’re exposed to. But as a fourth year student about to entire the working world, I should probably be more conscious of the content being posted or uploaded to these sites.