By Stacey Ross
It is said that the best way to avoid problems is to learn from others who learned the hard way, and, what better place than Facebook to gain wisdom in order to spare yourself future grief? Over the years, I have seen some scenarios develop on Facebook that had me wondering if I was being “punked”, or if those who had posted had given any thought to the implications of their messages!
The following five areas are worth considering as sacred ground in regards to how vocal one might be, not just on Facebook but elsewhere online as well. I have been called a party pooper more than once in my lifetime, so feel free to keep it going if you must. (I can handle it!)
Your relationship status
I think that not publishing a relationship status is a smart move for many (particularly for young people or children). If your single status is something you wish to be part of your online identity, then perhaps refrain from making changes immediately after a relationship ends or prematurely changing it to spite someone when it does. I am not going to go so far as to advise everyone to not share your love interest’s name, but if you are not looking to marry or get engaged any time soon, I think it is a great idea to save future heartaches and drama and pass on declaring exclusivity.
Your partying habits
Employers and school officials look at your online habits, so unless you have a guaranteed job for life or are independently wealthy, it is extremely important to consider what you (and your kids!) post, and refrain from discussing or sharing racy or dicey topics and photos. References to drug use, alcohol consumption, sexuality, criminal activity, religion and politics are all areas that can quickly lead to sticky situations.
Your personal drama
Our online culture encourages young adults to be open books. “Transparency” leads to juicy conversation, leading to more eyeballs and more profit. But be careful to not get too heated, as it can quickly backfire! Trust a mama! If you turn your world into a reality show, it can have a very limited shelf life but a long-lasting footprint. Always ask yourself what you are aiming for when you post. What is the main drive that propels your online efforts? Might it backfire?
There are so many perspectives on this but I – as a woman and mom – have a growing discomfort about sharing my whereabouts in real time when: at least one adult is not at our residence; I am not with a group of people; we are on a family trip; or the information adds an unnecessary risk factor (e.g. parents “checking in” to their kids’ pre-schools or their banks). I typically post after events are over, and that serves me just fine!
Posting photos of children and/or places of residence, or tagging names or leaving traces of an address, can be considered risky behavior. It’s also advisable to refrain from sharing one’s full name, birthday and birth year for obvious security reasons.
Also, it is good to preview photos that might reveal more than you intended. (Credit cards, notes on a wall, a home address, a house layout, etc.) Photos to avoid include those that reveal where your kids go to school, photos of them bathing, and photos that they or others have requested you not share!
The area that I am most sensitive about might be considered overboard by today’s standards but I do not share my kids’ photos and personal lives online, unless a story can be told using the backs of their heads and their stage names! It can be challenging but, hey, I am still around!
What areas concern you or heighten your online sensitivities? Do share!
Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.