Your Online Identity

With new technology comes new responsibility. Whether you like it or not, your social media accounts and online profiles are seen by the world. It’s important that your online identity is something that you would like the world to see.

If that makes you nervous, you’re a smart person. We put lots of things about ourselves online without even realizing it. Some of it we don’t even put there ourselves. Photos of you posted to Facebook by friends will show up on your profile. If it’s connected to your name, it’s connected to your job applications, resumes, and anything else a future employer or school program might look at.

It’s a good policy to look at every photo of yourself posted online and decide whether or not it’s appropriate. I’ve heard many times not to have any photos online of myself drinking. But there’s a big difference between a fancy dinner with a glass of wine (where you would look sophisticated and well cultured) and a keg stand. Use your best judgment and keep it classy. If your mother would disapprove, you future employers probably will too.

Online personas go a lot further than Facebook and Twitter profiles. Search for yourself and see what you can find. Any mention of you online can be found and connected to you other profiles. Maybe there’s a news article that mentions you, or maybe a friend said something about you that’s somewhat incrementing. All of that is relevant.

It’s not always easy to take mentions off the internet either. There are ways to avoid being connected to something that looks bad, though. When someone’s searching your name, you should make it easier for him or her to find your accomplishments than your misfortunes. Create your own websites and blogs showcasing your talents. Make it so that the first thing a potential employer finds when searching your name is something you put there for them to find.

Cleaning up your public image online is an important part of passing into adulthood. Older adults are not always forgiving about drunk photos and such. You have to remember, the internet is still pretty new. Our generation is really the first to have online profiles at a young age.

It’s probably better if bad photos and comments about you were never posted. But that’s not really our coming-of-age reality. So instead, we need to be aware and take control of our online identities. And really, sooner is better than later.

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