You’re setting yourself up for failure

People holding social media icons. Photo courtesy of
People holding social media icons. Photo courtesy of

Everyone wants to hear gossip, spread jokes and boast about their beliefs. Social media has changed the way people present themselves to the world.

What does this mean for the near future? As you apply for internships and jobs you’ll have to consider: Do I want my future employer seeing the “me” that I have created on social media?

The answer is probably no. 

The truth is, many of us are going to need to do lots of cleaning when it comes to our online associations.

“If you think employers won’t look at your social media presence, or you think they’ll disregard your bad behavior online, you’re wrong,” said Tara Cuslidge-Staiano, Associate Professor of Mass Communication/Journalism who designed the Social Media & Society course on campus. “Your activity, good and bad, may be the difference between you getting a first interview or not.”

For example, the Stockton Police Department posted news of an alleged vehicular manslaughter arrest on Facebook Nov. 28. 

Victor Mow, a former San Joaquin County Supervisor, was arrested and booked in county jail. The police department posted his mug shot and information about the arrest on the popular social media site.

The comments to this specific post are an embarrassment to the community. 

Racist jokes compare Mow to Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid” movies. 

More comments followed by people who weren’t pleased with Mow’s decade of work as a public servant. All the comments had names next to them. All profiles could be clicked to view the profiles.

Although defamation and racism is found to be common across all social media platforms, those taking part should note how they put themselves at risk. The comments on Stockton PD’s post of Mow were shared from users who have their full names displayed above their absent morals, plain to see for anyone with a Facebook account.

How often do you think about your words being held against you? Words are powerful. If you associate yourself with morally incriminating posts, comments, likes, shares, whatever, it might stick with you forever.

Next think of social views altogether. Politics are very tricky and people tend to avoid speaking of their beliefs in casual conversation. However, with the beautiful invention that is social media, etiquette as a social norm has been thrown out the window. 

Posts are shoved in our faces that read “HEY SNOWFLAKE” or “Impeach the Loser!” No matter the stance you take, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. If someone you want to work with sees that you lean one way or another, they might assume you are not open to compromise and negotiation.

Today, those of us who are searching to land a career will be subjected to instant searches of our social media presence. This is important to consider everyday.

“Fifteen years ago when we had less social media presence, it wasn’t uncommon for a person with a view considered contrary to popular opinion, particularly in a group setting, to not insert opinion into the conversation,” said Cuslidge-Staiano, who also advises the campus newspaper. “We have become more comfortable expressing our views because of social media. Many are OK posting status updates they know will engage or incite because they feel protected behind their computer or phone.”

What you say, do and post online is who you are. Go above and beyond the usual advice of not posting about how you love to drink, get high, and dance naked. Think about who you have associated yourself with online.

Does “online you” represent the school you go to? How about the community you want to or are currently serving?

Is your future boss going to want to see your rants on social issues that should otherwise be kept private?

“I recommend changing settings on accounts to private,” said Cuslidge-Staiano. “But understand that if someone really wants access your social media posts, there are ways to get to them – whether through one of your friends or loopholes in privacy settings. So my general caution is to make sure you stand behind what you post. I always ask myself: What would my grandmother say about this?”

The world doesn’t want to know everything about you. Create an air of mystery on your social media. Let your actions speak for you, not your retweets.