Here you are – your life outlined in a one page profile, with your interests, likes and dislikes, pictures, friends all organized neatly in hierarchal categories in that all-too-familiar white and blue template layout. You are in control of your own page, a master of your own Facebook destiny. You can choose how much or how little you want to reveal about yourself, choose different privacy levels so that only your friends can view your more private moments captured on camera – your privacy is at your own fingertips, molded and shaped at your own will.
At least, that’s what you would like to think anyway. Here are some ways in which Facebook can meddle with our lives and jeopardize and soil our reputations, whether we take precautions or not: 1. With Facebook, like with any other social networking tools, whatever you choose to post online can never be entirely private. The first negative effect that Facebook can have on your life is, to some capacity, a result of your own doing.
Whether of a direct or an indirect action, undesirable information about us can spill beyond the boundaries of chosen privacy settings and end up in the hands of a third party. Let’s explore this phenomenon a little further. Say you were twenty one and in college, going out on a town with a bunch of your close friends, cameras and shots of tequila in hand. The pictures taken during this fateful night do not have to be R-rated to jeopardize your future employment opportunities, should a prospective job recruiter come upon them while doing a Facebook search.
With employers utilizing this social networking tool as a background checker in increasing numbers, the pictures from years ago that may not even define the person that you are today can make you out to be an alcoholic and an out-of-control partier. Or say you posted some slightly risque pictures of yourself under strict privacy settings, so that only the closest of your friends can have the privilege of viewing them at their leisure. Fair enough – you took precautions.
However, what if one of your friends has ulterior motives, what if he or she decides to reveal the pictures to the rest of the population, despite your protests. That is not to say, of course, that you should suspect every one of your friends to be a devious backstabber, but simply to sprinkle some caution in the wind and remind that even the most private of information can, inadvertently, become public and harmful as a result of mere carelessness on your part. 2.
Even when you do not bring a camera because you are sure that the events of a drunken night should not be documented in any way, shape or form, there is never any guarantee that no one else will start snapping pictures in the middle of that drunken keg stand or a make-out session with a pizza delivery boy. Even if the next day the embarrassing pictures are revealed on Facebook and you frantically detag yourself, do not assume that the pictures, even if untagged, can no longer be traced back to you.
Your friends still have the images posted online, making them freely available for anyone to view, judge and discuss. Even if you politely ask your friends to take the questionable pictures down, it does not guarantee that the pictures will not be posted again at a later date. It does not even have to be a malicious action – sometimes people simply forget about their friends requests and, upon finding amusing and crazy pictures from years ago, decide to post them online again. 3. Pictures are not the only tools of potential demise to avid Facebook users.
Sometimes, even your own words can become your sworn enemy, as your activities, political, religious views, and fan pages can be seen by anyone in your chosen networks. Whether it is your strict Catholic mother who notices that you “do not believe in God”, according to your profile, or whether it is your love interest who takes offense in reading that you are “not interested in serious relationships”, little comments and quotes here and there can create drama, when you might least expect it. Similarly, wall posts can also be deemed offensive by the third party readers.
It does not matter if you and your friend are shooting crap back and forth out of sheer boredom and happen to say something questionable that is, later, read by a third party – those comments can be blown out of a proportion and held against you at a later time. For instance, if you are complaining about rising tuition costs and inadequate quality of teaching in your summer business class and your professor happens to read the comments, he or she may think twice before handing out that A to you at the end of a semester. Unethical? Yes. But he or she never has to give you the real reason why that A suddenly plunged to a B-. 4. So what if you really are a truly upstanding citizen without deep, dark secrets to hide from Facebook’s prying eyes, are you completely immune to the negative aspects of belonging to this social networking web site? Not completely. Your privacy can still be compromised in other ways, even if you have no scandalous pictures to conceal and no offensive views to share. Your changes in status, relationship changes, loss of family members – all those things can get modified and notified about to your friends and networks.
Sometimes you cannot even be fully aware of the ripple effects you can create simply by changing your relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single”. If you are ready to deal with the outpouring of condolences, then you have come to the right place. If you, however, are not ready deal with a life change in a public manner, do yourself a favor and hold off on posting about it on Facebook. 5. With so many neat little tools to play around with, so many interests to update and so many quizzes to take, you may find yourself sucked into this addictive little world of Facebooking.
While some keep their updates in check, others obsess over little details, modifying and re-modifying over and over, never being fully satisfied with how their profiles portray them to the rest of the world, or at least, to all of their friends. This obsessive behavior can lower productivity at work, distract from important tasks, and make forgetful minds forget even more about real life responsibilities. Facebooking is fun, but if other aspects of your life start to suffer and your boss threatens to get you fired, then perhaps you should take that as a sign to take a breather and slow down on your interest updates, at least for a while. . Finally, you must remember to never confuse online interactions, and that includes Facebook wall posts and private messages, to be an adequate substitute for face-to-face, person-to-person conversations, outings and get-togethers. In other words, do not get wrapped up with how many friends are on your friends list or how many people have commented on your status today. You must realize, and too many of us fail to do so, that online networking should come second to trying to make connections in the real world.