connect or not connect… that is the question

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Guest Post:

By Rachel Chistyakov

Privacy on Social Media

As a senior in college on the verge of graduating, I amstuck in a position where I am unsure of how I am supposed to act on social media. I’m too old to be continuously posting photos of myself out at an event, at a tailgate for a sports game, or sharing a drink with a friend at dinner, but I still feel like that’s appropriate for me to do without judgment. While I am responsible and am avidly focusing on my future, it is perfectly normal to balance work with some fun, and I believe that many other people in my age group feel the same way.

“All work and no play makes Rachel a dull girl,” I tell myself.

I live in a bustling city and I am on the last leg of my undergraduate career, and as I apply to graduate programs it slips my mind that I need to keep looking professional and constantly thinking about who is viewing my posts online. And when I do spend a night out with my friends, it is also completely out of my control if someone decides to snap some group photos of us and post them online. I don’t constantly think about the various eyes that are looking at my social media accounts: my family, my boss, graduate school admissions representatives, and other potential employers. They don’t see my point-of-view of things, and they don’t know that I am still diligently working whenever I am at home or in class because what they mostly take note of in my online posts is when I am not studying or working. The problem is that I know I should be aware of these other people whenever I post something online, but it keeps slipping my mind.

So do I need to backtrack on all of my social media platforms to erase any evidence that I did, in fact, attend college, or do I keep my profiles as they are and run the risk of someone assuming that I am an irresponsible person?

20121016-HiRes-copy-16-1While I do want to maintain my privacy online, I also work with a few companies that need me to publicly advertise their products. So if I privatize my profiles, then my advertisements won’t reach as many people as they have the potential to. This will then affect my work and my outreach. But when my profile is public, I run the risk of my photos and information being viewed by people that I don’t want seeing those things. But then I just convince myself that these are my profiles and that I have the right to run them however I want to. It’s a vicious cycle that I am constantly battling within myself, and it is always hard to come to a compromise.

People love their privacy, some people more so than others. I have come to the conclusion that most people don’t need to see my social media platforms because they are not for professional purposes. My Instagram is not going to show me studying hard in the library or working on a term paper for one of my classes, but my LinkedIn profile shows my past work experience and allows me to connect with other professionals who are interested in my skills and my work. Just like I wouldn’t necessarily post an Instagram photo of myself at my job or tweet about the latest homework assignment that I have due at the end of the week, I also wouldn’t post photos of myself out on with my friends on my LinkedIn profile.

In the end, there is a happy median for each social media platform that individuals need to access by themselves.

For people who are trying to advertise themselves as models or actors, their Instagram profiles become their portfolios.

For a recent college graduate who is desperately seeking a job or an internship at a PR firm, LinkedIn is their primary target. For someone who is advertising products for a company they work for, Facebook and Twitter are their primary platforms. While you might be actively posting on one platform, you should consider privatizing other platforms so that they don’t mix together in a way that might hurt you in the future. This is the plan that I am carrying out as I look to the future, and so far it has worked out well for me.

Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-chistyakov-5b40239b

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