Why We Post Before We Think

The pressures of social media envy and ways to control our online behavior.

Posted Dec 12, 2018

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Source: Bigstock

Why do we post things that we know could get us in trouble? Are we not thinking it through in the heat of the moment, or do we think no one is paying attention? Are we simply naive, thinking that what we say is only among friends?

Or are we the opposite, craving the approval of all those likes or retweets? As we will see, so many times, these messes are entirely of our own making.

Your online behavior should be the best reflection of who you are offline, but so many of us don’t live up to that ideal.

Tweet regrets 

It's almost a weekly occurrence we are read about people that experience their past tweets that will come back to haunt them, especially when they least expect it.

Actor Kevin Hart found himself stepping down from hosting the Oscars after his old tweets surfaced from 2009. 

Only days later, after winning the Heisman Trophy, quarterback Kyler Murray found himself apologizing for tweets he made when he was a teenager.

Smart people, dumb digital choices

Sexting is not the new normal; it's now considered normal, to the extent that some say it's the new first base. Does that make it right?

Most parents and teachers today will (should) discuss the risks and consequences of sending or receiving sexual content on digital devices with young people, but it's almost a daily basis that we are reading about teachers or school coaches that are caught sexting minors.

Just recently, a middle school teacher who is also a former Miss Kentucky was arrested for allegedly sexting a former student.

Social media pressure

It's human nature to scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feeds with a compare and despair attitude, when suddenly you find yourself caving to social media envy and start posting things you wouldn't ordinarily say or publish. Will this lead to post remorse?

Digital literacy teacher, Diana Graber and author of Raising Humans In A Digital World (Harper Collins, 2019) shares that kids need our help too, especially to learn how to avoid the big risks that come with their digital lives and future. Graber continues;

"Talking with middle schoolers about their online lives give them a chance to notice the ridiculousness of counting likes or posting at the right hour of the night. Often, they independently concluded, "Gosh, maybe it's really not worth all the trouble."

We have to remember, teens are not the only ones that struggle with social media envy, adults alike will find themselves in this quandary. With maturity on our side, we need to learn not to act on impulse when we see things that can be upsetting or untrue.

Putting your best footprint forward

Maybe you haven't been diligent in the past about your online reputation, the best news is, it's never too late to start. Keep in mind, the majority of businesses and colleges will screen our social media feeds. What's more telling today is that it's not only about what you post, it's more about your online behavior.

Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

  1. Conduct. We're living in emotional times today. Before you use your keypad, check-in with yourself. Don't allow your tool to become a weapon. 
  2. Content. What goes online, can (and will) come back to haunt you. Short-term gratification is never worth any ramifications. Think twice - post once.
  3. Caring. Care enough about yourself to know you better click-out before you leave that snarky comment. It's not worth a tweet regret or post remorse.
  4. Oversharing. Are you social sharing for your platform, or oversharing for your ego? Know that everything offline doesn't need to be documented online.
  5. Emotional sharing. Your cyber-friends are not your cyber-therapists. Having a bad day, take it offline. Never air your workplace woes; it's a great way to end up on the unemployment line.

Making a comeback from a digital disaster

  1. Assess the situation. Tweet storms can be temporary, but search results can be long-lasting which is why I always suggest people use free tool that helps monitor when your name is mentioned online.
  2. Never engage with the attacks. This will create more visibility of the shaming.
  3. Start building positive content. Tell your story about yourself through social and blogs.

The weapon that harmed you is the tool that will rebuild you.

References

Graber, Diana: Raising Humans In A Digital World, Harper Collins 2019

Scheff, Sue: Shame Nation, Sourcebooks 2017

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