The general opinion on whether or how to use social media has changed a lot in its short history. It went from the initial excitement to a specific rejection and finally to some kind of “must-have”. One might get confused. Should I be using social media or not? How should I use it correctly? Should I even care about that? To answer those questions, I would like you to do something else then just reading my advice on how to use social media correctly. I would like you to think about social media. Hopefully, it will lead you to make your own decisions about how to use it in the right way according to your circumstances.
One of the central aspects of using social media is to be able to get in touch with others. The communication is not the only purpose, though. Spreading your projects or ideas publicly gives you an opportunity to get to a broader audience if that’s your case. But even a common hiring process involves managers looking you up on the internet. For that reason, having at least a good LinkedIn profile can be more than useful for you. However, no one can force you to use social media. If you feel better using it, then do it. If for whatever reason you find yourself happier not using it, then don’t do it. Just do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
Although the fact that you might have the time of your life tagging your friends on memes all day long, and that it IS some social interaction, social media should never replace face-to-face communication. What if one day you got a message saying the page you’re currently using the most is not available anymore? How would that affect your life and, more importantly, your relationships with others? Would you stay in touch with them?
As there are so many ways of using social media, it is hard to say what’s the correct or incorrect use or what should be avoided. You can choose whether you want to share more personal or more “professional” content and probably depending on that you will want to connect with just your friends or also with your teachers, parents, co-workers, etc. With that idea also comes related the kind of image you want to spread about yourself (which I recommend would not be the opposite of your real one).
It is difficult to draw a line between what is too personal and what is not. The same happens for deciding what is just personal and what is already intimate. It all depends on what kind of user you want to be. Before posting or liking any information, you can always ask questions like the ones I suggest. That might help you to draw those lines yourself:
That’s also very connected to the previous paragraph. There is some information that should apparently not be posted to protect yourself. That might be passwords, credit-card information, your exact address, your salary, the company you work for, or any legal information. Anything that would suggest your house is empty is not a bright idea to share either. Not that you don’t trust your friends, but you just never know. There’s no need at all to share that kind of information, is there?
As for your privacy, consider checking privacy settings of any social media you use, use incognito mode anytime you log in from a public computer and double-check whether you have logged out successfully once you’re done.
But let’s talk about a different kind of privacy, too. If you want to share what you have for lunch at your work today or who is your current partner, feel free to do it. But what about the privacy of others? Does your friend want to be tagged in that post? Does your mom want you to upload her photo on Facebook? Would your professor mind if you post a picture of them while teaching? Respect the privacy of others and respect what privacy means to them, but most importantly, don’t get yourself in (legal) troubles.
I would like to dedicate the last paragraph to two issues that seem interesting to me, but at the same time, I find them pretty subjective.
The first question would be whether using social media is safe or not regarding privacy and what happens to the information we share.
And the second question would be how social media creates a precise vision of world/life based on what we share and who has access to share that information (or even use the internet in general).
Although it can be interesting for you to just think about the aspect I have suggested, it would be even more interesting if you could share your opinion with others. That way we can create an excellent discussion on what kind of use should we make of social media or internet in general. Don’t feel shy and let us know what you think in the comments section below!