The other day I asked a colleague, in the shared working space I use, what she would like to know more about and it started a conversation about what people share online and why they feel compelled to, or comfortable, sharing it. This is a topic that I really enjoy talking about, so today I’m going to delve in a bit further as to why I think some people over share and why I think it’s important for you to think through what you’re sharing online.
Private discussions have found their way online
In years past, people sat around in their living rooms and backyards having heated discussions about all sorts of things, often voicing controversial opinions. While these conversations still happen, they‘ve also moved online. The problem with this is that instead of having a small private conversation amongst a few friends that conversation is now accessible to the public, potentially forever.
Do you believe that every opinion that you have should be available to the general public? I know I certainly don’t.
I believe people are sharing their opinions thinking that they’re only talking the way they always have and not taking into account or understanding Google’s reach. Google doesn’t forget things, including the comment you left on a blog post way back in 2007 (I found a few of those when working on this post ;) ).
This means that making a conscious decision about what information and which opinions you share online is very important. While you may very well be willing to share your opinions online, the key is to make a conscious decision and realize that a permanent record of that opinion can be accessed by anyone.
Why does it matter if we say controversial things online?
The things that we say impact the way people view us. This is key. How do you want to be perceived by the people who can find you online?
You need to think about who might end up looking you up. Potential employers, potential employees, and potential clients are all likely candidates to do a bit of searching online to get to know you better. What will they find?
When you Google yourself, would you be happy for a future employer/partner/employee to find everything that you find?
How well are we adapting?
While some people are very careful about what they post online, many don’t take into consideration that what they say online can impact how people view them. For example, many people would never say anything they believe to sound racist, but do they realize that complaining about work online could impact future employment? Do they realize that constant negative commentary could affect someone’s opinion of their overall attitude and how they would fit on a team? Taking that a step further, do they realize what they say about other people (including their children) can have a lasting impact on other people’s reputations?
Here’s an interesting infographic on some of the things people share online: http://www.bitrebels.com/social/how-we-might-share-too-much-online-infographic/
More and more, we want and need to be online personally and professionally. Understanding how to do that responsibly is a step many people haven’t yet taken. Take some time to figure out what you want people to think about you (this is your personal brand) and whether or not your actions convey the same message.
What do you think about what people share online? Do people share more than they should?