Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media and Reputation

It's true that a good reputation is probably one of the most valuable things you work at never tarnishing. Daniel Solove gives an awesome example in his book "The Future of Reputation gossip, rumor and privacy on the internet" about how before print someone's reputation was more redeemable with the passing of memory. He also asserts that there was a time when the fear of damaging your reputation forever was a scary enough consequence that the majority of people really worked at making sure that they did nothing to damage that.

What has happened to that fear? Let me first premise this statement with a defense of myself. I am not one who believes that everything in Hollywood is contributing to the unravelling of our moral fiber. However, it does seem that there is a certain class of Hollywood/reality tv celebrities that are always in the gossip columns for being trashy or classless with something they have posted or has been posted about them. For them this seems to work in their favor. "All publicity is good publicity"as they say.

But what about the rest of us? There are those out there who are engaging in the same brazen nonsense and either they or one of their frenemies are publicly posting the details to the www. It is well documented that potential employers occasionally scour our facebook pages and twitter feeds to find out about our reputations. I am one who cannot live without a job so I prefer to keep my online presence a little generic. Not because I am out living it up like Tiger Woods and I don't want anyone to know, but because I want to protect my reputation. Part of staying safe is not engaging in risky behavior.

I work at an elementary school where 11 and 12 year old girls have been caught grossly lying about their ages on their social media pages. They are not only putting themselves at risk but they are putting the boys they are trying to talk to at risk by communicating with them under false pretenses. My default response to social media is if you don't have one, you don't need one. Why do we need an "online presence"? I put a premium on trust and I think that is why I don't engage in a lot of social networking. I'm just not drawn to it at all, but I do love fantasy football...go figure.


  1. I found it interesting that in your activity reflection you stated, “It is well documented that potential employers occasionally scour our facebook pages and twitter feeds to find out about our reputations”. It made me recall a speech given by the principal of my daughter’s middle school. It was at my daughter’s ‘A’ honor roll breakfast at the end of last year. He wanted to make certain that the parents and students knew the importance of being careful about what you put on the internet. He stressed that the information that you put out there today could come back to haunt you years later.

    This statement, “I work at an elementary school where 11 and 12 year old girls have been caught grossly lying about their ages on their social media pages.” is really scary to me. I’m the mother of two daughters 10 and 12 years old. I can only hope that we are teaching our daughters to make better choices. We do our best to teach them safe computing skills, carefully monitor their on-line time, and have programs on their computers to help prevent open chat sessions. Even with these safeguards in place, there are still many opportunities for them to make bad choices.

    Gina M

  2. Hi there. There are some things that I'd like to point out. Sometimes it is better to have a presence that is positive then have to react after something has been done. Point being if you have a positive web presence for a long time and someone fakes an account pretending to be you, you can point out your real account that has been there for a long time. Another point that you made yourself. Employers are out there watching. I applied for a job that required me to work through computers. My application sat for one year without even a phone call. Once I created a web presence for myself using a google profile and twitter I got a phone call in about 2 weeks and a job. A positive web presence in today's job market is a must.

  3. I really liked your activity reflection because a lot of your thoughts are similar to those that I have on a daily basis. I agree that today people don't put much stock in their reputations they way that they used too. Many people choose to social network and post every little detail of their lives, many times to their own detriment. I do use the social networking site Facebook, but I am careful about what I say and the information I provide, simply because I don't want to have to explain to my boss or anybody else who may be of importance in my life what my personal activities are away from my job.

    Like you I also have elementary age students who are using social networking sites and lying about their age. I feel that their activities should be more closely monitored by their parents so that they do not find themselves in an unfortunate situation down the road. This is why it is important to educate our students about the appropriate uses of technology and what the pros and cons of their activites online can be.