Who remembers the name Anthony Weiner? In 2011 he was an up and coming democratic senator from New York who had given a wild and woolly speech at a fundraiser for President Obama and he was being touted by national news sources as the next big political star. He was married to a woman who was Hillary Clinton’s second in command when she was secretary of state, they were young and relatively photogenic, and he was on top of the world.
A few months later he was notorious for being stupid by being found putting nude photos of himself out to young women (insert your own joke here) and hitting on them on Twitter and a few other online places, and of course someone knew who he was and outed him. Career gone, late night jokes aplenty, with a pregnant wife who, luckily, was able to hold onto her job because it turns out she’s good at it. And he couldn’t stop himself, getting into more trouble while trying to run for mayor of New York City.
There are many people who are scared of being on social media because they’re afraid that people are going to find out things about them that they’d rather not be known. It’s true, social media can be a frightening place when it comes to your privacy. It doesn’t even have to be you violating your own privacy; get caught doing something a bit off color somewhere and you can bet someone took a picture of it, will probably upload it, and will tag your name to it, even if you had no idea it happened.
Having said that last part, it should become clear that without being on social media you have no control whatsoever, and thus it becomes imperative to have a social media presence.
First, it’s not as bad as it might seem. Most people, if they’re your friends, will respect your privacy.
Second, you will get to work on controlling how people see you by putting up and then putting out only what you’re not scared to share. If you’re in business it’s a great way to help advertise what you do and keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry.
Third, if something shows up that you’d rather not have out there, you can always contact that person to ask them to remove it, and if they don’t then you have an opportunity to spin it your way into something positive; that is, unless it was also on the nightly news.
In today’s world, treating social media like an ostrich with its head in the ground (by the way, that’s not true, but it’s a great metaphor) can only hurt you if you allow someone else to define who you are without giving yourself a fighting chance. You don’t want to put out anything that will show you in a bad light, but if you do, at least you can fix it if you’re a part of it all.