It’s hard to realize, but most millennials probably can’t remember a world without social media. In just a short time, social media has become one of the most popular means of connecting today, if not the main way of connecting. There are however, a few things millennials should consider they press send on their latest social media update.
I don’t mean to pick on millennials, but I work with some of the brightest young adults that I’ve ever met and I want help them succeed. My fear for them is by growing up with social media, they often don’t see the effects of their actions on social media.
In order to help these young adults out, I’ve compiled a list of fifteen things that millennials need to know about social media. Again, my intent is not to point fingers, but rather help them understand what effect social media can really have on their lives. (Authors note: this post was inspired by 20 Things Every Christian in Their Twenties Should Know by David Qaoud.)
1. Taking back what is posted to social media can be difficult.
We all get emotional. Unfortunately, a post written in an emotional state may not be as easy to remove as hitting the delete button. Once something is re-shared or a screen shot is taken, it then becomes available everyone on social platform. In other words, the old adage “Think before speak” applies to social media.
2. Having doubts about what you are writing? Then go with your gut, don’t post it.
Life is full of times to take risks however, social media isn’t one of those times. We live in an age where a lot of us give the public instant access to our lives. Over time, this makes it hard to decipher the public from the private. Remember, every moment in life doesn’t need to be documented and it’s ok to keep some parts of your life off social media.
3. Political views don’t always translate to social media.
Sure, you might not like the President or congress. Or you might be irate that the Pope came to your city or that he spoke on an issue that care about. However, social media is not the place to air those grievances.
No matter what your political views are, it can be difficult to explain your views successfully on social media. Social media doesn’t allow to to fully give you a comprehensive view of your politics. To be honest, it doesn’t add to your online presence and can easily misinterpreted by a future employer.
4. Not everyone will share your sense of humor.
Okay… you might think you’re the next Jim Gaffigan. But there are few things you forgot…
First, humor can be very subjective. What you might find funny can easily offend someone else. Second, we are becoming to more accustomed to making fun of complete strangers or celebrities. Sure, you may score a few likes or retweets, but you can easily find yourself at the wrong end of someone’s joke and that’s never a good feeling.
5. There is a fine line between being proud of your accomplishments and bragging.
It’s ok to be proud of yourself and the things you have worked hard to accomplish. However, it is another thing to brag. When your pride overtakes the humble mention of your accomplishments, what started out as a simple social post becomes bragging.
Here’s another way to look at it. If your social media post is ultimately pointing to you and not reflecting how God brought you to that point of accomplishment, then you need to re-evaluate your social media post.
6. Future employers will look at your social media history.
As I said before, I have the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing young adults. This also means that I get to go through the process of hiring these young adults.
Your social media history is a living resume for many potential employers. I know, because it’s one of the first things I check when I’m hiring someone. So here’s what you should do. Find an objective third party to look over your social media history to determine if there is anything you should delete. Just by finding another set of eyes, you can help eliminate any embarrassing social media mistakes.
7. Retweeting and liking content on social media isn’t actual social change.
You are lot of buzz about trending hashtags, and social media campaigns that hope to effect change. The truth is, these social media campaigns don’t always do a lot to make real change happen.
If you’re not careful social media can lure you into becoming lazy when it comes to real social change. Sure, sharing something on social media may raise awareness but without someone to do the actual leg work nothing changes. You need to learn to differentiate the difference between awareness and real action.
8. Your current employer is probably watching your social media.
While you future employer my look at your social media before hiring you, the same could be said of your current employer. I don’t regularly scan my employees social media, but I’m aware of most their activities.
Is it that I don’t trust them? No. More than likely, it’s just that I need to be aware of what’s going on in case I have to defend them (and yes I’ve had to defend them).
Do your current employer a favor and remember that social media not only reflects on you but your employer as well.
9. Boredom is not the enemy, it can actually foster the creative process.
Don’t be afraid to log off of social media and experience a little boredom. Boredom forces you to go outside your comfort zone and into the real world. Real life experiences can be where creative ideas are born.
10. Learn to build real relationships, hiring rarely happens over social media.
You may have created a great looking Linkedin profile and “added” a lot people to your network. While those relationships may lead to a job, you need to learn to build real relationships. I’m talking about face to face interactions with people. Real relationships where you share life with people either business or person. These relationships greatly increase your chance of find a job.
11. Learn to ignore people on social media that you disagree with.
Since social media provides people the ability to be anonymous, it can be flooded with people who feel free to say whatever they like. This freedom usually results in fights, attacks and people looking for a debate. Remember, no one wins in an online debate. Sure, you may score a few points. But at what cost? Learn to avoid arguing online, you time is too valuable.
12. Social media may not be the place to complain about a person or company.
You don’t get the service want from a company or someone cuts you off on the road. For these situations it seems the norm is to go on social media vent about it. Of course, these complaints rarely get you anywhere. In fact, complaining online impedes you from learning to have face to face confrontations and fostering your communications skills. Plus, these skills can keep you from saying something you may regret later.
13. If you are at a meal with friends or your family, put the phone down.
Being mentally present with those you are engaging with is just as important as being physically present. We often confuse the two. Give your family and friends the respect they deserve and put the phone down.
14. Be gracious on social media to the organizations and people you work with.
Gratitude is in short supply. Social media is full of negativity, so shouldn’t you help change that? A thank you can go a long way and you’ll be surprised how people react to being thanked.
15. If you have made a mistake on social media, it’s not the end of the world.
Everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of being human. Ask for forgiveness and move on from it.
If you’ve been born in the last twenty-five years or so, you been born into a time with incredible resources. What you do with those resources are up to you. You can live like everyone else and add to the noise on social media or you can choose to live differently both online and offline.