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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

Well, now I feel affirmed.  Maybe even a little smug.  In my previous position as electronic communication director of the Unitarian Universalist Association, one of the phrases I kept on my whiteboard was, “Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should.”  I was referring in particular to use of social media tools which proliferate and attract us because they are so new, so easy, offering such fun ways to use the internet to send out photos, tweets, videos, whatever.

I used to repeat the phrase to folks who would come in to talk about ideas around using these tools.  They were in love with the tools, the very coolness of them, rather than what it was they wanted to DO and how best to do it.

I have seen the down side of ‘over-sharing’ and it’s not fun:  each year I would take several calls from very unhappy people who were members of one of our email lists and who had discovered, the hard way, that their posts were archived and searchable on the web.  No matter that this was information we shared when they joined one of our email lists.  Suddenly they were faced with a crisis – someone had googled them and discovered something that they didn’t want “out there” and it all came tumbling down.

I have so many friends and acquaintances and colleagues who flock to use new stuff or get onto new social networks.   “Got to go get the newest [fill in the blank]” – because it is new…even if they aren’t sure how they will use it.  ‘Have you signed up for [blank]?  You can do so many things.’  Even play games…which require you to ‘friend’ more and more people who you don’t know.  And then, I watch as people post God-knows what…which all those ‘friends’ can see.

Now the New York Times has run a story sharing the buyers remorse an increasing number of young adults are feeling for having exposed their personal lives through social media.  The Times article notes, “The erosion of privacy has become a pressing issue among active users of social networks. Last week, Facebook scrambled to fix a security breach that allowed users to see their friends’ supposedly private information, including personal chats.”

And the concern has certainly made it into faith community settings as well.  I’m aware of situations where promising resumes bit the dust because the individual’s Facebook page portrayed a person who was intolerant and fixated on one issue, or news and information about a person was discovered not through their ministerial record, but through a web search that revealed a different story.  Ooops.

Yeah, I’m here blogging, and tweeting, and I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn.  And I’m paying attention.  Trying to focus on what I say, and how I post, and who I allow in the virtual door.  The Times quotes Yale student Sam Jackson:  “I am much more self-censoring. I’ll try to be honest and forthright, but I am conscious now who I am talking to.”

It’s an evolving art.  I try to repeat my own whiteboard phrase whenever I have questions about whether to engage with a new network, or post a particular item somewhere:  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  Because what seems like a good idea now may come back to bite you later.

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