Saturday, November 22, 2014

The good, the bad, and the ugly of social media

Social media can be used for good purposes, it can be used for bad purposes, and sometimes, the use of social media has ugly results.  Here are my thoughts on social media.

The good:

You can find folks you haven’t seen in years.  Have you lost track of that cousin you used to hang out with in grade school?  He or she is probably on Facebook.  Do you have family members or friends that live in other states or other countries? Facebook can help you keep in touch with them. 

On social media, you can find groups of people who have common interests, like sports, Bible studies, etc.  You may never meet any of these folks in real life, but you can converse with them like they’re in the same room with you. 

Social media is also good for following people and companies you are interested in.  You can get glimpses into their activities without seeing them in person.  If you’re having an issue with a product or a service, Twitter is a fast way to get a business’s attention.  The business will rectify issues quickly so their other followers will see that the business wants to make their customers happy.

Social media is also a great way to promote your business.  You can post about special offers, new products, and job openings.  You can ask your business’s followers questions about what they would like to see or purchase.  You can post contests and giveaways.  If you have an emergency and have to close your store early, or you have different hours for weekends, you can post about it.

Social media is great for those of us who write blogs.  You can use social media to publicize new blog posts.  If your blog has a Facebook page, you can post items that are too short to blog about, or use it as a way to keep your readers engaged. My Branson on Your Budget blog has a Facebook page. I use it to post special information.  

Twitter is really good for obtaining news quickly.  I follow national news organizations such as CNN and local TV and radio stations on Twitter to get news updates.  It only takes about 30 seconds to post a news item on Twitter and post a link to a web page if more information is available. Twitter is great when major news events are occurring.  You can follow what’s happening in real time.  Twitter wasn't around for 9/11, but if it had been, it would have crashed with everyone posting updates. 

The bad:

If you’re a private person who doesn't want to be found or a criminal, then perhaps social media is not for you.  Google is the friend of those folks seeking people that don’t want to be found, and once you’re found, watch out. 

Intent often can’t be deciphered on social media.  You may post “I’m going to kill ____,” or “I’m just really depressed and I think I’m going to end it all” on your timeline and not be serious, but people who read your posts don’t know that you’re just kidding.  They may become concerned and call the authorities.  Depending on where you are on your life's journey, having the authorities know about your social media posts could have some major repercussions. 

Violent movements and organizations also use social media to publicize their activities and to recruit more people. 

If you spend more time on social media than you do with your family, then you may have a problem.  If you’d rather play Facebook games than eat, then you may be addicted to social media.  If you get up in the morning and the first thing you do is check social media, then you may be addicted to social media. 

The ugly:

Potential employers look at your social media presence and if what you post doesn't comport with the type of employees they want, then they will not hire you.  If you’re a student, colleges to which you apply will also look at your social media presence to see if you’re the type of student they want to admit.  If they don’t like what they see, they may decide not to admit you.  If your relatives don’t like what you post on social media, they may disown you. 

So how should you use social media wisely?  Be careful as to what you post on social media. 
Actions have consequences, so stop and think before you post (or do anything, for that matter).  If what you want to post could get you in major trouble, then don’t post it!  My general rule is that if you wouldn't want your mother to see what you post, then don’t post it.  If you don’t care if your mother sees what you post, then you have deeper issues than I can cover in this blog post.  This includes not only the writings that you post, but the photos/avatars that you post or use as well. 

Post enough so that people don’t worry about you, but don’t post too much.  Familiarity breeds contempt. 

You may wonder why I wrote this blog post.  Recently, a family member posted something on Facebook that they shouldn't have. Someone turned him in.  But because this family member didn't think before he posted, something his mother was looking forward to greatly will not happen now, and that’s very sad.  I wanted to post this to warn others so you can use social media correctly and avoid this fate.  

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!