Admit it. Who in this modern world does not have a Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account, a Yahoo! Messenger (or something similar), or at the very least, an email address that one checks at least weekly? If you are a youth or young adult who lives in the city, you probably have at least one, if not all, of these things. You should also be very much familiar with Google, and the amount of information that you can get from it with a single click. This is already the life we grew up in.
Internet has played a major part of my life since highschool. I practically went through most popular online connections – MIRC, ICQ, Friendster, Multiply, and the likes. I’ve gone through several email addresses, from Hotmail, Edsamail, Excite, Yahoo Mail, and finally, Gmail. I’ve had a few personal blogs, including Xanga, Blogger, Multiply and Friendster Blog. Right now, my most active portal is Facebook, Google, and Yahoo Messenger. I’ve never had a Twitter account, and I probably wouldn’t get one unless it’s a matter of life and death. I have nothing against it or against people who use it, it just doesn’t fit my personality.
Lately, even our parents are starting to get Facebook accounts of their own, albeit most would rather not add them to their friends list. Understandable. We probably have a lot to hide from them, right? But then again, we must be always aware of what we put online, whether our parents are actively there or not.
Case # 1 – Don’t ruin your career
You probably have heard some stories about people who have absentmindedly posted rantings about work, their colleagues, or their bosses online, only realizing far too late that a boss or a colleague is part of his or her contacts. This is one major danger with what you post online. It can cost you your career.
Also, always remember that whatever you post online can also be seen by potential future employers. As much as you can research about companies and key people in companies you apply for, they can also search about you. If you’ve had some incriminating photos or posts about your past life (or maybe even about your present life), there will always be a possibility that employers may see this and think twice about getting you.
Case # 2 – You can never be too young to have online problems
I’ve heard of cases where some high school students from exclusive schools posted some incriminating party photos online, and other students in their school found these and reported them to their teachers. There have also been incidents where students said something bad against their teachers or their school administrators, and this has reached the authorities. Discipline cases have been filed because of this. Ergo, be careful with what you post online, no matter what age you are.
Case # 3 – Even celebrities have online boo-boos
A lot of times, other people misunderstand the statuses we post on our facebook pages or twitter pages. Celebrities and non-celebrities have had word battles because of these. Even Manny Pacquiao was KO’ed because of an off comment he posted on his Twitter. Imagine them, and imagine you. You’re not popular, but of course there will still be a lot of people around who will know you, and who might be looking for things about you online.
Case # 4 – Have you heard of online stalkers?
Let us be careful about our details that we post publicly online, especially our email addresses, mobile number, phone number, addresses, among other things. Imagine the possible problems you may have to face if these details found their way into the wrong hands (and this isn’t rare or impossible). What if other people stole your identity and used your details for illegal transactions?
Even if you don’t have your contact details posted online, still be careful of the information about yourself that you put online. If you post too much details about what you do and where you go, it’s also possible for other people to use these information to stalk you or do something against you.
I am an online sleuth myself, and that sleuthing has made me discover a lot of things about other people that they would otherwise not admit upfront. I get to see online who is married and who is not, who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and sometimes juicy things about their past (or even their present). I was even able to come across an old blog of a girl about a boy she loved so much (maybe from two years ago) – I never knew the girl, but I know the boy, and I know now that certain part of his history even if he never mentioned anything about it.
Please don’t think that I’m a scary type of online stalker. I just do my research well, and that has helped me avoid a lot of complications (and sometimes provided a lot of entertainment).
Case #5 – The misunderstood
We all have our way of thinking, writing, and expressing ourselves. We used to extend and share ourselves to inanimate objects like diaries or journals which is intended for no one else but ourselves, and then to other people like our friends and family through conversations, letters, and such. In the recent times, we have learned to express ourselves online for everyone else to see, through Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, among others. Since all you see online are written words and no facial expressions or tones of voice, and because most of the people out there don’t really know who we are and how we think (even if sometimes they think they do), a lot of times we do experience being misunderstood or being judged wrongly by what we post. I am personally very wary about this, since I know I may be a bit skeptical or sarcastic at times, and a bit gooey and mushy on other times, and I’ve been misunderstood because of the things I’ve put online before.
What to post online
My most important rule in blogging and posting – I write only the things that I know my parents wouldn’t mind reading (hi Mom and Dad!). If whatever I write passes their standards, it would most probably be safe for reading by colleagues and acquaintances. But just so you know, I also have some posts on my Facebook that I hide from my parents every now and then, but none of them harsh or cruel or crazy, maybe just some of my “madrama” moments.
But I also have a “secret” blog, and of course I wouldn’t post here where and what it is about. It’s for me to know and for you never to find out. And you will not be able to find it by searching for my name or my common online pseudonym, or whatever information you can think of about me. It’s open for the entire world to see, but it’s hidden from anyone I know.
Know who you are online
It’s best to make sure that you have a “clean” record online. A good test is to try to search for all the combinations of your names on Google, including your legal name, your nicknames, and your known pseudonyms. You’re pretty safe if the only thing that appears there is your Facebook page (but of course make sure your Facebook is not open for everyone to see, make all your details for friends’ view only). If a link to an old blog appears, check it a bit to see if there are anything incriminating from your past still hidden there that may haunt you later on. If a link to someone’s blog appears, check if they’re praising you or trashing you – either way, it’s good to know.
I do this periodically. There was already one time I found a link that showed my name and my contact details (because of a certain online database that the developer did not secure properly), so I reported it immediately to those who are handling it. I have also discovered that I have a 5 year old namesake in USA. :p
Bottom line, please be very careful what you put online. Who you are online greatly defines a lot about you in the recent day and age, especially since a lot of us exchange a lot information and spend a significant amount of time online.