Tuesday, January 3, 2012

That's Permanent: Treating the Internet Like a Tattoo

A few folks out there are really freaking out about this whole new timeline thing on Facebook. On Google+, Mike Elgan referred to the timelines as the "Facepocolypse"--before sharing these tips on how to wipe out old Facebook posts. Maybe I should be freaking out too, but I'm not.

He can shave the beard, but that tat is there to stay.

I'm sure I have a few dumb status updates, but I doubt there's anything completely horrible out there. How can I be so confident? Well, I've pretty much been treating my public broadcasts on social media sites (whether Facebook, Twitter, message boards, etc.) as if they are permanent tattoos.

Here are a few tips for avoiding embarrassing posts (and having to hunt them down when sites like Facebook make them easier to find):
  1. Think before you post. Even if it's a status update or tweet, take a moment to consider if a post will embarrass you now (or in the future).
  2. Think after you post. Most sites allow you to delete posts after you've made them. If you realize 5 seconds (or 5 hours) after your post that it was dumb, take the time to hunt it down and delete sooner rather than forgetting about it later.
  3. Edit each post. Before hitting the "post" button, be sure to search for errors in spelling and grammar. You don't have to be 100% perfect (because it is still social media), but you do want to avoid obvious and fixable mistakes.
  4. Don't post drunk. Or mad. Or lonely. Or in some other extremely emotional state. Let the moment pass before sharing a side of yourself that you'll regret later.
  5. Avoid public fights on social media sites. Public fights, whether online or offline, tend to make everyone uncomfortable, especially those who may feel loyal to both parties. Don't put your friends and followers in the middle by having big public fights. Try to resolve problems through private messages or by being the bigger person.
  6. Share meaningful posts. If you want to share status updates, try sharing thought provoking comments or links to helpful (or interesting) information. For blog posts, think about how your post might help or inspire your readers. If you want to share a story about picking up pizza for dinner, try your best to make that story interesting or insightful.
Do you have any tips on how to post with care? Please share them in the comments below.


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Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

Great foresight! I've done the same. Love the additional tips. Happy 2012 to you and your family, Robert! Looking forward to your April and November poetry challenges...

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for the comment, Andrea! I'm looking forward to those challenges as well--and I'm eager to start reviewing the 2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge entries.

Christie Koester said...

Love the pic! Ha!

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Christie, I'm not sure which is more prominent: the tattoo or the beard. All I know is the shaved head really holds it together.

Mr. Lonely, have an excellent day.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's not a tattoo, just a rubber stamp thing...

I agree with your tips, Robert. As a former credit and collections person, I have had to watch what I put in letters and emails and voice messages. Drafts are always a great thing because you have time to rethink and edit. As you say, people should do the same. It is kind of a variation on the "get it in writing but never put it in writing" idea. Almost anyway! Happy New Year, Robert