Monday, January 7, 2013

Do you have "social media amnesia?"

It’s ok to admit it...we all have a bit of social media amnesia.
In the beginning...
I have been involved with social media for a very long time.  Probably almost as long as social media has been a “thing”.  My very first forays were postings to Usenet groups in the old days before we had chat rooms on the Internet.  Then I graduated to joining email listservs, some of which are still active. 
Over the years, I’ve posted in the comments sections of multiple news sites and other venues.  I bet you’ve done some of this, too.  In fact, I bet we’ve all done so much of it that if we stopped to think about, we wouldn’t begin to remember every post we’ve ever made. 
Is ignorance really bliss?
“Social media amnesia” is a term that’s been used before, but in a different context.  In an editorial, Nancy Scola of Reuters discusses tweets about the presidential election and how people forget what has been said and how there is no search engine designed to track  words used in Tweets since Twitter was first inaugurated. 
To me, the phrase “social media amnesia” means forgetting what and where I’ve posted through social media over the years.  This kind of amnesia is actually quite important because the strength of online search engines means that things a person has posted days, months, or even years ago can be found and potentially used against the writer.  

Have you taken the "Google Yourself" challenge?

Employers and Google
Google yourself now and then so that you’re not blind-sided.  For example, when I Googled myself recently, I found a post I had made to an email listserv in 1995.  I did not recall making the post, I do not recall the listserv or even the topic of discussion! What I posted was perfectly fine, no one would be offended by it in any way, but someone could ask me about it, which could be awkward for both of us.  It’s better for me to be able to address such things than to look surprised and have to say, “I don’t remember that.” 
If you're a student, potential employers are going to Google you and they may ask you about things you have posted.  The last thing you want is to be in an awkward situation where a potential boss asks about photos or comments you have put on the internet that are easily found when searching your name.
If you search for yourself every 6 months or so, you might be able to remove tags or photos you don’t like; sometimes, you can’t remove or untag anything, but just knowing what is out there can save you potential embarrassment.

Dr. Marcy Tanter is an
Associate Professor of English & Languages and Director of the Graduate English Program at Tarleton State University.  

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