Remember when the Internet became a common thing and everyone and their mother was concerned with how much Internet users were sharing online? We are far away from that now. The pure existence of social networks shows that. The prevalence of blogs, where people literally share their lives with strangers, provides another example.
But the question still lives – how much should we share about ourselves online? And at what point does website safety become a concern?
Pretty much everyone avoids posting about bodily functions. You can usually tell when someone’s Facebook has been “hacked” when they post a status about poop. And when it comes to health conditions, it’s pretty hit or miss. I know friends who have a chronic illness, but you would never know it from their social media presence. I personally talk about it (more on Twitter than Facebook) because 1) that’s a huge part of my life and I’m not going to ignore it online and 2) it’s an easy way to update everyone on what’s going on.
We all know people who post about family or relationship problems online, and everyone cringes at them and wished they didn’t post it. (If you’re one of those people who posts passive aggressive things about friends or relationship issues, please know that it makes everyone uncomfortable.) Sometimes, we see older family members post things online that we really wish they hadn’t. But how do we explain that to them? It’s not like there are hard and fast rules for everyone to abide by on the Internet.
Then there’s the logical side of too much sharing. You don’t want to post pictures of your credit card, for example. Or, similarly, information that could lead to your identity being stolen or you being robbed. It’s a bad idea to post your address as well as all your expensive items (TVs, electronics, jewelry, etc.) and how long you’re going to be out of town, unless you’re looking to invite robbers. Those are both two important elements of website safety.
But the thing is that the Internet is forever. Even if you delete something, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be found or that it was truly gone in the first place. I feel like this was drilled into our heads last decade, and then it stopped being talked about as much because all Internet users knew it. And now we have a new generation arriving to the Internet in the past 5 years or so who don’t know as much about website safety as we do.
This is a bit of a rambling post. The point is that we need to remember that what we post online can stay with us. When future employers look for us, what will they come up with? What will they find? How will they feel about what they see? And if you don’t care about what your employers think, ask yourself what your children or grandchildren or future spouse’s family will find if they search for you. If you legitimately do not care, that’s great, and congratulations. Just remember that nothing you put online can ever truly go away.