Spruce Up Your Social Media This Fall
September is a time of change and new beginnings. Trees shed their leaves, students open new spiral-bound notebooks and boot up their iPads and laptops to fresh word documents (let’s get real, who sharpens pencils anymore?), and clothing retailers swap out mannequins wearing tank tops and swim suits for those in cardigans and tights.
But what about new beginnings for your virtual self? Social media can be a blessing or a curse when it comes to finding an internship or job, trying to forget mistakes you made at last weekend’s party, and recording your experiences as a young adult. Take some time this fall to evaluate your use of social networks and how you can best portray yourself through an online presence!
Facebook: The Professional You
In an attempt to either keep track of their children or jump on the bandwagon, it feels like more and more “grown-ups” are signing up for Facebook accounts and popping up in your friend request folder. This means your photos from tailgating a football game and your status updates about how much living at home sucks are now topics your relatives can bring up at the dinner table.
Facebook has extensive options for privacy settings, from limiting who can tag you in photos, to who can send you a Wall post. If you haven’t set your privacy settings, Facebook is one of the first results in a Google search of your name, which is common for potential employers and crushes to look up in an attempt to get to know you better.
Why not update your Facebook this fall to be your professional online presence? Keep your status updates appropriate for your family and employers, so that when Aunt Marge asks why you won’t accept her friend request, you don’t have to hide that you were a sexy nurse for Halloween last year.
If you still want to share photos or websites all your friends might not “like,” spend some time with your privacy settings to limit exposure of your aforementioned Halloween costume to your buddies, not your colleagues and supervisors who could put you up for promotion. But know that your friends might take notice that all they see when they click on your page is your profile picture and where you go to school. You wouldn’t want them to think you’re hiding something shady.
Twitter: Your Stream of Consciousness
Virginia Wolfe was one of the first authors to write in what is referred to in literature as a “stream of consciousness,” or a flow of thoughts or statements that don’t necessary join together, much like your own inner ramblings: “What should I make for dinner … I’ve got to write a thank you note to my mom … Ugh, I hate my morning commute … These are the most comfortable heels I’ve ever worn!” Do these short thoughts sound familiar? Your Twitter feed is probably filled with them.
In 140 characters or less, Twitter is the social network for random thoughts, sharing links and photos, starting conversations about events as they happen, and following news from your friends and celebrities. Twitter only has two privacy settings: everyone can see your tweets, or no one can see your tweets. Twitter is also a first-page result of a Google search of your name, which means that without “protecting” your tweets, anyone can see you curse, post inappropriate photos, rant about your job and friends, and all the atrocious grammar and spelling mistakes that come with tweeting.
If you’re looking for a place to chat with close friends, post links about your personal beliefs, share photos you may not want your parents or employers to see, and say every thought you have as you have it, a protected Twitter account is the place to do so.
Twitter can be a great place to showcase your humor, react to your favorite television shows, blow off some steam, and engage in conversation or debate with those followers you accept. You can do all these things with an open Twitter account, but beware your best friend confronting you about the Tweet “Weddings suck! #Ihatemybridesmaiddress,” or your significant other starting a fight over Tweeting “Why do I have to be the one to always say ‘I love you?!’”
Personal Blog: Your Passionate Self
Sure, Tumblr has become the go-to social network for reblogging photos of your favorite “Pretty Little Liars” couple (or the OTP you ship, for veteran bloggers) and asking “Anons” to send you love (which never works out the way you intended). But what blogs as social networks represent are the things you love and hate.
What started out as public journals are now pages of pretty pictures, surveys about your sex life, and gif after gif after gif of TV show and movie moments that sum up a statement about your life. These blogs are fun, but they aren’t making a statement.
This fall, why not try a blogging platform you aren’t used to as a place to share one subject you truly care about? If you’re an amateur photographer, try posting a new photo every few days and soliciting feedback to help you grow. If you are passionate about politics, write commentary based on news articles or press releases about the candidates. Review books; write poetry and short stories; post videos of wacky things your pets do; share recipes, beauty tips; give advice … the possibilities are endless!
You can also put your name and face on a blog or be an anonymous poster, depending on the audience you want following your blog and if you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on your topic with your name attached.
How much information about you can be found online? How do you feel about locking down all your social networks? Let us know in the comments!
Written by Lauren Slavin
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