The many faces of the Oct. 31 Mardi Gras on George Street are posted on Facebook. Facebook is a fun way for us to convey our lives by posting pictures, videos, status updates, our personal interests, occupations and organizations we belong to so we can keep our circle of "friends" up to date. But how appropriate are we on Facebook? Do we sometimes take things too far?
We are responsible for what we broadcast about ourselves. If we post something offensive or foolish from our personal Facebook account, it can one day come back to haunt us. We tend to act impulsively on Facebook; we have a thought and immediately transfer it to an online status. We may attempt to delete posts after the fact, once hindsight has kicked in, but the information we give to the online world, stays online — even after we've exited the digital stratosphere.
I am in no way promoting censorship. But would you show your family and friends a picture of your head hovering above a toilet at Trapper John's, or a shot of you publicly urinating on the side of a building? Would you actually confront your tough professor face to face, the same way you call them out in your Facebook status? Probably not. Instead, we use Facebook as a shield because we are confident that we will not have to answer for what we show and tell. However, this may not always be the case.
Facebook owns the rights to our posts. Most importantly, potential employers are now perusing through our profiles as part of their hiring practices. They use it to see if we would represent the company respectfully outside the workplace, and to check for professional skills, i.e. proper use of words, sentence structure and grammar on our homepage. Basically, they look to see how we have constructed our own image. Therefore, we need to be mindful of what we share about ourselves, and how we share it.
Security settings can work to our advantage. We can limit what our audience sees and specify who can tag you in posts. We can make our profiles searchable only by our email address rather than our name and be more selective as to who we add to our friends list (do you really have 600-plus friends?). You can also restrict people from viewing and posting on your wall.
We need to re-evaluate how to use Facebook. We need to keep in mind that no matter what our morals are, everything we do is creating an image of ourselves that people will know us for; anything we share online is reflected in this image. Of course, the best way to avoid the Facebook folly is to keep anything that can be misconstrued or considered offensive as far away from Facebook as possible.
Joshua Duff is a third-year student majoring in political science and English language and literature at Memorial University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.