Twenty-five years ago, college freshmen used a computer for little more than word processing. Now, almost everyone uses the Internet for all kinds of reasons and there will be very few students who aren’t a member of at least one social networking site. However, it is important to control exactly what you post on such sites, for the sake of your current and future reputation. Here are five social networking slipups to avoid as a college freshman.
Giving away too much information
It is tempting to use your social network to maintain and increase friendships. However, be careful about who you befriend. You will meet a lot of people in your first week or so, but they will not all turn out to be reliable friends, so don’t give them access to too much of your personal information. Unless you want people turning up at your doorstep, don’t post information about where you live, who your friends are or what you are going to be doing over the next few days. Only those whom you trust should be privy to such information.
Belitting classmates or teachers
You may find it amusing to make fun of people via social networking sites. However, it is not sensible to post rude information about people with whom you have dealings on a regular basis, because they may well see your posting at one point or another. At the very least, it is likely to upset them; at the worst, you could find yourself in trouble with the college authorities. You may have a particularly thick skin and may not mind other people doing the same to you, but you should realise that no everything thinks like that and, unless you want to make long-lasting enemies, you should avoid being inappropriate.
You may be tempted to miss classes, safe in the knowledge that you can catch up by copying someone’s notes afterwards. You might also consider relying on other people to help you complete assignments. If you are going to do this on a regular basis, don’t advertise it on your social networking site. If it is obvious that you are relying on other people to get your work done, it may come to the attention of your supervisor. It won’t please your classmates either, especially if they are going to the effort of doing the work, only to see you pass by doing the bare minimum. You are responsible for your own work at college, so get on with it.
It is so easy to upload photographs onto social networking sites and you may be tempted to post photos of yourself and others in compromising situations, presuming that the only people to see the photos will be your close friends. However, anyone could come across your account. You risk upsetting friends and family and, even worse, you could lose out on a future internship or job opportunity because the employer in question has perused your account and doesn’t consider you to be reliable material for an employee.
Stalking and being stalked
You should be careful that you don’t stalk people online. If someone has given you the hint that they are not interested in your friendship, then don’t message them every day in the hope that they will change their mind and don’t make a note of their every move so you know exactly where to bump into them. Likewise, if someone is constantly messaging you and it is becoming a nuisance, then you should consider removing them from your circle of friends. The more they have access to your postings, the more information they are able to gain about you – even if you think you aren’t posting anything that could make you vulnerable.
Social networking sites are a great way of keeping in touch with people. However, make sure you use them sensibly. The repercussions of being inappropriate online are longer-lasting than you can ever possibly imagine.