In the 21st century, social media is everywhere, especially Facebook and its child companies. We use them to connect with family and friends, get to know new people, keep up to date with our favorite celebrities, have fun, or sometimes even find work. But most of the social media networks do not survive very long.
For example, MySpace used to be huge in the 2000s and is still fondly remembered by many, but it lost its popularity and faded into obscurity years ago. Vine was a super fun app with a unique sense of humor, yet it got discontinued. Of course, some social media networks have survived for many years, but that does not mean losing popularity.
However, one social media site that does not seem to be losing any steam is Facebook. It appears to be a default site for many people, as you have practically everything you need there. Friends, pages, groups, all types of posts (text, photo, video, etc.), and more.
As it has existed since 2004, most people have had a Facebook account for many years, and that means they have probably written way more posts and comments than they can remember.
While that by itself does not have to be worrying, the issue arises when it comes to the fact that everything you post on the internet, in one way or another, stays there forever. And none of us are perfect. Even if one does their best to grow as a person, it can mean that they have made mistakes, to call them that way, both in real life and on the internet.
It could have been an angry comment laced with profanities, an argument with a stranger online that went too far, or maybe something that you would find funny or harmless, but others would find offensive or hurtful.
Anything you post on the internet, especially on such a site like Facebook, which is extremely popular and encourages people to use their real names, photos, and other personal data, can be found by future employers or college admission counselors. Or, well, literally anyone else. And then… someone might lose respect for you, or you might lose your job. Not worth the risk in either case.
So how to prevent any potential fallout from things you post online? While it might be a good idea to go through your entire activity log on sites such as Facebook and check whether something should be deleted, it is not a very realistic suggestion for most people. If you are aware there is something very wrong that you posted in the past, then it is a good idea to try to find and remove it, but if it is more of a general ‘what if’ feeling, the best thing you can do is to try to be more careful and mindful in the future.
While you might feel so tempted to say something to a person, you disagree within the comment section of some post, or while it might seem like a good idea to post some pictures, take a moment to think about the potential outcomes. Can it be misunderstood, even if you meant it as a joke? Can someone get upset, even though you think it is harmless? If you were an employer checking out a job candidate’s social media profiles, would you employ a person who said what you were about to tell? As with many other life situations, it is always better to prevent a fallout than fix it.
Of course, potential consequences should not be the only thing to keep in mind when deciding what to post, like, or follow on Facebook and other websites. After all, the world already has quite enough darkness without us helping create more. Isn’t it better to create a festive atmosphere, make someone smile, or provide valuable information on the internet, than to argue, insult, or hurt people? While people you interact with on the internet, especially if you do not know them personally, might often seem like two-dimensional characters whose whole personality is based on something you disagree with.
They are people with thoughts and emotions, just like you are, so it is essential to consider how you would feel if you, or someone you care about, were on the receiving end of any online abuse. Even if you know for sure someone is wrong, explaining that to them calmly and politely can have a much better effect than attacking them immediately. Being kind to each other is an important choice we can make, even when it comes to online interactions with faceless strangers, which can hopefully help create a better place.
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