I was called upon yesterday to comment for a local news story about a K-State students racially offensive Snapchat post that went viral.
The bottom line is that no matter how personal you may think your circle of friends are on social media the potential for what you post to leak out to be judged by others and to become viral is always present. Once a post is shared on social media regardless of your privacy settings or small circle of connections, you are at the mercy of the others you are connected with and their privacy settings and connections to determine who sees what you share. In this case it appears that a snapchat post, which many feel is temporary, was recorded with a screenshot and then posted on another social media platform Twitter which launched its spread, because of its controversial nature it became “viral”. Unfortunately the consequences of this action can be permanent, there is no way to take back or remove a controversial or poorly thought out post from the internet once it is shared beyond your account.
Your actions on social media can have life long and life changing affects because the image you present on the web is projected to those you know, those that don’t know you, potential employers, business associates, and so on. A large percentage of job applicants are rejected because of inappropriate photographs and information, posting information about drinking and drugs, bad mouthing former employers, poor communications skills, discriminatory comments about race gender or politics, unprofessional screen names, and on and on. Like it or not your image and what you post on social media is a reflection to others of who you are and your personality, a lifestyle resume of sorts.
It’s an interesting dilemma if you want to be yourself or genuine, not just presenting a falsely “wonderful” image of yourself on social media. In some respects you can’t treat online life like real life because the potential for “gossip” or what you say to spread in your “digital” life is exponentially larger than traditional word of mouth. Don’t let a moment of seeking an easy laugh or a joke among friends become a nightmare you can’t take back.