Social Networking - Things that you should avoid doing

Social networking is the in thing these days. Almost everybody has a blog or facebook or myspace or twitter. These days when you are talking to a stranger or trying to make friends with somebody, at some point the other person will ask you "do you have a blog or do you have facebook or are you on myspace" or something like that. I was watching movie Superbad other night and in one of the scenes guy asks two kids "are you guys on myspace". It just cracked me up. All these social networking sites have a provided a wonderful media for everybody to write about what they feel, what they think. Like any other things in life, it can hurt you if you are not careful with it. Some people think that I am anti-social networking. Well I have facebook, you are already my blog and I do twitter as well. I draw the line at myspace. Lets put it this way, that medium is something that is not my cup of tea.

Every time I see one of my friends or loved ones write something bad on a forum or blog, I always tell them "watch what you write on internet these days. its permanent". I remember I said this thing to a girl who was very good friend or mine. And she laughed it off and asked me "why do you think blogging or tweeting or facebook or writing on any social networking site can hurt?". I told her to wait one day. Next day I forwared her some posts from few forums and asked her "did you write these?". She was dumb struck and asked me how did you find about this? I again said "its permanent and searchable". Now she understood

Point I am trying to get across is that anything you write on blogs, forums, facebook, myspace etc. will affect you one or the other at some point in life. I am not saying that you should not use this wonderful medium of expression. But you should use it in a positive way. I will list some of the aspects of use of internet media that where a right or wrong choice can matter.

Whats in a name?

Last week I asked one of my clients about his email address. He sent me two addresses and they were something like "deathsdoor@xxxx.com" and "iamrebel@yyyy.com" and he sent me a note with it "i am sorry about these names but I was young when I started using them. I think you know where I am going with this. We all get tempted to get identities that sound bad @ss. Well, you tell me what will be your impression when you see these kind of addresses or names or identities. Even though this person created these names when he was a kid, but he definitely is feeling the pinch now that he had to apologize for it. These kind of names look good in a fantasy world, but in real world they can have consequences. I am pretty sure that most of us would not like to use these kind of names when applying for a job or sending email to co-workers especially your manager from addresses like these.

Create names that you do not have to hide or explain or apologize for

What time of the day it is?

One time I asked one of managers in my company about her posting messages on facebook during work hours. She did not like my comment. And then she made similar comment to one of my friends who works under her. I was there, I was just looking at her. I think you are starting to get the idea where I am going with this. Yes, you are right. These days lot of employers do look at your online activities when you are on the job or apply for a job. There are lot of things that could affect you negatively.

  • If you are posting messages on boards, blogs, forums etc., your boss is going to interpret that you are not doing your work during work hours.
  • If you are posting messages very late in the night, it can be interpreted that you spend lot of time on all these online adventure and then next morning either you are late for work or not very attentive. If you start slipping schedules or not paying attention to work, then next remark you are going to get from your superior is about your late night activities.
Keep your message posting activities to minimum during work hours

Writing about your work?

If you are posting too much details about your work or projects on online networks, then lot of employers see you as potential risk to disclosing inside information or disclosing about upcoming products or project.

Do not write about specifics of your work

What are you writing?

Do not use this medium to write bad things about other? Or do not slam your employer in these forums? I am sure everybody in your list is your friends. But you know what, it does not take much for a person to turn against you and let it be known what you have been saying about others or work place. There are other mediums to express your disappointment or anger about work place. Using online messaging boards, facebook, forums etc. under your name is not something you want to indulge in. Not only it will create negative impression about you, but it may have legal consequences as well. God forbid if you were laid off and received severance package, you sign some documents and one of the clause is about not bad mouthing your employer.

Try to stay away from posting negative comments or thoughts

Privacy mean privacy

There are two issues here. I will address first that can hurt others. I am sure you will not like if anybody talks about you in public. You need to tend same courtesy to others. Do not write about private life of others in these social mediums. You may not mean any harm but you never know how the other person leads his or her life and what kind of privacy he or she keeps. I saw somebody posting a remark like this in facebook, "Bob and I are having good time at downtown club". Well, did you ask Bob if he wanted to share his presence in night club with everybody else in the world. Did you ask if he told his wife or girl friend about having good time. But now you have announced to the whole world. Be sensitive to other people's privacy.

Second issue around this is about yourself. Try to keep your own private like private as well. Do not share your very private moments or incident with everybody in the world. Like I said earlier "Its permanent". And for most part, others do not care. Your postings will become part of a circulation to entire world in no time. I am sure you got the point.

Private means private

At the end I will say, social networking is a very powerful medium. Use it to work for you and not against you.

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