Column: Take care using social media

Social media is great.

It’s a useful public relations tool for businesses and a good method for people to connect in their personal lives.

Social media is great.

It’s a useful public relations tool for businesses and governmental bodies, an excellent platform for news media to disseminate content, and a good method for people to connect in their personal lives.

When used properly, communication platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are invaluable. But the constant usage and proliferation of social networking has not only drastically altered how people communicate, it has proven to be harmful on occasion.

Bullying has always been present in the schoolyard. The difference between bullying today and the past is now it can follow you home.

Kids and teens can’t escape their tormentors if they continue to be harassed online. And unfortunately, social media provides the perfect platform for cyber-bullying.

Relentless taunts and hurtful messages can continue to be conveyed, regardless of whether a child is safely at home.

The Internet also offers a form of anonymity. Using it as a shield, a bully can cowardly hurl insults without physical confrontation, and possibly, with impunity.

Furthermore, there is the question of permanency. Photos that are posted due to poor judgment can be removed. But they can also be swiped off a website to be used in future, for the purposes of defamation, blackmail and harassment.

Social media, originally designed to share personal content, has also bled into the professional realm. Employers and recruiters can, privacy settings permitted, check up on employees or potential candidates.

Needless to say, there are more than a few people out there who have regretted posting status updates lampooning their boss or photos of “innocent” debauchery.

Young, working professionals now have to be cognizant of what sort of image they would like to present.

An example of how unfamiliar people are with their own social media profiles was Facebook’s recent scandal, where hundreds of thousands of users lamented the appearance of embarrassing, private messages on their timelines. In truth, Facebook was not sharing private messages at all. It was the users who didn’t recognize the bold and perhaps careless statements they made in the past.

Another evil of social media is its use for criminal purposes. Social media sites that facilitate immediate location check-in can put people at risk for home invasion. Burglars can easily prowl through social media to find out who’s home or not.

And while not as serious, social media has had an effect on interpersonal communication. People are rarely more than an arm’s length from their smartphones, which provide access – sometimes unlimited – to their favourite social networking sites.

Checking your phone at dinner was once considered rude, but these days it’s common to dine with someone who is intermittently tinkering on their phone.

Is this the way it should be? Eyes plastered on your phone rather than the people you’re “spending” time with?

Social media has successfully trained people to enjoy and become accustomed to sharing content. Facebook and Twitter have proven to be good arenas for thought, but when did people start to share the mundane details of their lives, or begin to enjoy viewing or listening to that content?

Ironically, social media has introduced a disconnect in relationships, spawning cohorts of young and old who scan through Facebook and Twitter accounts to surreptitiously “find out how people are doing.” Whatever happened to giving someone a phone call? Face-to-face interaction appears to have been put on the back burner.

Case in point, it’s more important than ever to be prudent when creating your online persona in a web-based world.

You never know who may be looking.

Sharron Ho is a reporter for the Sooke News Mirror.

reporter@sookenewsmirror.com

Just Posted

Mayfair visitors can check out “Heartmelt Motel”

Cross-country pop-up exhibit stops in Victoria from May 29 to June 9

Double lung transplant gives West Shore man second chance

Co-owner of West Shore Barber Shop grateful for every minute of the 16 years transplant has provided

Hallmark movie filming in Oak Bay

Shooting for ‘Sunshine’ continues into June across Greater Victoria

City says traffic pattern on Bay Street Bridge will stay as is until October

Commuters began facing long waits on Tuesday morning after the east-bound lane was closed

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read