Today’s thoughts were inspired by a talk I attended earlier this week by student affairs and social media expert Eric Stoller. He raised the point we all have a “digital identity” that we both need to build and protect. How many folks reading this are on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or have a blog? If you are, ask yourself these questions. What do you use it for; sharing information, keeping in touch with friends and family, communicating with classmates, networking professionally, playing games? What type of information do post for others to see; pictures, links, opinions and thoughts? Who are your friends and followers? What do you allow them to post on your timelines?
The reason I have you ask yourself these questions is to have you think strategically about building your digital identity. Is what you are putting out on social media the true identity that you wish to have? What you choose to say and show becomes a part of this identity for better or worse. There is an old saying that you can tell a lot about a person by who their friends are. The same goes for your “digital” person. Who you choose to have as friends and who you choose to follow says a lot about you. Social media is wonderful tool for making connections and sharing your life and interests with others but it can be a double-edged sword. As long as you keep in mind that what you choose to share and who you choose to associate with automatically becomes part of who you are for the world to see, it can be a powerful tool allowing you to connect with people and things and build your identity in a way not possible just ten years ago.
To sum it up..no one says you can’t have fun, be opinionated, or just downright silly. You are telling your unique story to the world. But, think of it this way when posting to a social media site. Is what I’m putting here something I would like my employer to see in 25 years? Is it something I want my grandkids to see in 50 years?