I remember my first contact with social networking and interaction in the new digital era. Back when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth we had dial-up internet connections with a very noisy modem. I feel nostalgic about those sweet connection tones . My very first experience with chat rooms was BBS, or Bulletin Board System – boy, am I old!- and it was really fun. After 10 minutes of modem connection time, I could chat… live, with a person I would never meet and who was located in a foreign country. Awesome!
A lot has happened in the digital world since then and we can’t imagine our lives without SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and so on. How did we ever manage? What did we do to talk to our friends, sell our used junk, arrange appointments, meetings and parties, send condolences to a grieving family, ask someone out on a date or break up with someone?
Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we cannot avoid having an online life. Well, we can, but it is going to catch up with us at some point. Here are some helpful tips you can apply to create and maintain an online presence that rocks.
- The Front Page Rule – If you don’t want to see your comment, picture, link, article, blog post on the front page of the local newspaper for all of your friends (and your boss) to read, DO NOT post it! Simple. It does not matter if you think no one will read it and it is private. Believe me, it can be found. Apply the same rule in any conversation. If it’s a secret, keep it to yourself. If you’re about to slander someone, criticize, complain, either work it out with that person or keep it to yourself. They will hear about it one way or another.
- What you see is what you get. This is not only a good rule for online presence. It’s a good rule for your life. Be the same person wherever you are, no matter with whom you are. I used to work training teachers and I would be shocked that they would go out partying and bar hopping immediately after we had discussed how to be a good role model for their students. Enough said.
- Be Wise coolchick_85! If you’re a disc jockey or a rapper, an entertainer or a singer, certain usernames, handles and online profile IDs are fine. Not so much if you’re online persona needs to appear professional and trustworthy and not reveal how old you are.
- Pretend you’re running for office. You know how in any political campaign the contenders will dig up each other’s dirt? Make sure your online life is squeaky clean. Again, all of your life should be, but at least Google yourself and see what you can find.
- What happens in Vegas… If there is any piece of digital information that would embarrass you, your family, your company, your spouse, your friends or your grandmother, DELETE! I would say take a good look at your behavior and figure out if this is the person you want to be, but to be practical, make sure you keep those memories well stored in your head or your hard drive and not on your online sites. Future employers, your future spouse, your business partners, your kids… will be watching.
I don’t mean to be preachy, well, yes, I do, but it’s for your own good. As far as the awesome things you can do with a healthy online life, I’ve made great friendships, learned more about my faith, connected with some awesome people and got myself the best husband in the world. You can do it too.
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