I am from a generation where technology is key. Where it is a help not a hindrance and where it is fully embraced by those using it. I remember my first experience on a computer: it was my brothers and I used it to play games, mainly the game where gorillas threw explosive bananas at each other, great fun but nothing compared to what we use technology for now.
I am a 21 year old student studying a degree related to the media, so quite obviously I use Facebook and Twitter, but what is so scary and what I feel a lot of students (and professionals) have not yet grasped is that there is no longer an element of privacy online. The vast majority of us live our personal lives (in some way or another) through social media, whether you are ‘checking in’ at your local pub or posting a picture of the new pair of socks you have just bought, all your friends, family and colleagues know about it, and more importantly for me is that so can my potential employers.
During the past month there have been incidents in national newspapers of students bringing university’s into disrepute because of their actions outside of teaching hours – citizen journalism at its finest!
This opens up an interesting debate: have we lost our privacy and do employers/universities have the right to access this ‘private’ information? After all, before the introduction of smartphones and the likes of YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter how would anyone know if one particular student had exposed themselves in a Cardiff nightclub? Even if they did, it wouldn’t have been recorded and permanently available for all to see on the web, so what gives institutions the right to go looking for people to punish? Personal time is personal time and nothing to do with work or uni.
Or is it?
Well, I think that anything you make public is exactly that. If you are doing something that you wouldn’t want your employers to see, then don’t do it, if you are saying something that could be offensive, don’t say it. Should employers be allowed to view applicants on Facebook and Twitter? Of course, it is a big part of business these days and if you have nothing to hide you should have nothing to worry about.
Social media and the technology which we have at our fingertips should be embraced and used to our advantage! Creating a brand for yourself online where anyone can see you and potentially know you before they meet you can be invaluable and is something that I think all media professionals should be developing as we move into the future. As for institutions and employers, they have their reputations to think about, and an employee acting badly is going to reflect badly on them, whether it is live on air or on a social media site that can be linked back to their own.
So I will continue to use social media with trepidation, and remember – everyone is watching.