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Social Media Hangover

Social Media Hangover

We all know that the use and prevalence of social media is constantly on the rise. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, tumblr, Youtube... there's a world always at our fingertips and we know how helpful it can be to stay in touch with distant friends or family or to make new friends. However, it's important to remember that what we see online isn't always an accurate reflection of the whole picture and what we put online can stay there forever. If you keep those two things in mind, then you won't go too far wrong!

According to careerbuilder.co.uk, 55% of employers who had researched a job applicant following an application stated that they had at some point found something on social media that caused them not to hire that applicant. The research found a number of reasons for this: 45% said that evidence of drink and drug habits had put them off employing someone; 39% rejected applicants who had said something negative about a previous employer or colleagues; 38% were turned off an applicant because of inappropriate photographs online. 

A number of those surveyed also stated that they had found something online that had swayed them in favour of the candidate, so of course, there are pros to using social media, but we need to consider how we use it effectively and safely! It's not just employers who are at risk of seeing something that you don't want them to see - friends, family, anyone at all! can search for you or stumble across pictures or information that you might not want them to see. Sometimes, having too much information about yourself online can potentially be embarrassing, but it can also be dangerous and you run a few risks when you're active online.

Facebook-tinted glasses

Facebook and other social media envy is a real phenomenon. Sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas edge did a survey of 425 undergraduate students' happiness in comparison to the happiness of their friends. Statements in the survey included 'life is fair' and 'my friends have a better life than me' and then answered questions about their use of social media. The survey found that 'the more hours people spent on Facebook, the stronger was their agreement that others were happier.' 

The study went on to argue that our belief that others are far happier than we are comes from what is called 'correspondence bias' - i.e. when we draw false conclusions from limited information. Basically, if we always see pictures of people having a good time and enjoying life, then we find it easier to assume that that's always the case! Logically we may realise that someone is not telling the whole truth online, but even when we know that's the case, we are still inclined to remember all the positive comments and pictures that we've actually seen. 

Remember to take some time to meet up with your friends and catch up face-to-face. You'll learn more from their words and their body language than you ever will from a Facebook profile!

What can I do to protect myself?

Your digital footprint is a trail that you leave on the internet every time you share something, post a comment or like a post, review a restaurant or get into a debate. By and large, you have control over what people can find about you and what audience what you do post reaches. 

  • Google!: It may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is google yourself to see what comes up - this is the first thing that anyone will do when they're looking for information about you. If you discover something about yourself online that you don't want people to see, the first step is to try and contact the website that it's on to get it removed. 

  • Facebook Filtering: We've almost all been the victim of tagging: waking up the next morning after a good night out and finding that our friends have posted pictures of all the fun and tagged you in them. Everyone likes having a good night, but you may want to consider if these pictures are the kind of thing that you want anyone to be able to see. If not, it's totally fine for you to ask if your friend will untag them or even remove them from their page entirely. They probably just don't see them the same way that you do and would feel the same if it was the other way around!

  • Security, Security, Security: Most social media platforms have the option for you to customise who can see what you post. Check your profiles and make sure that they are locked up as securely as you want them to be.

  • Think before you post: Once something is online, it could potentially be there forever, so think through what you are writing or posting and decide what it says about you before you run the risk of not being able to take it back. 

  • Delete yourself: If you ever decide to stop using a profile, it's a good idea to deactivate and delete it if possible. This will stop it from being searchable and any information taken from it. 

Remember: the internet is an amazing tool if we use it right!

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