Traversing The Social Media Minefield

An online presence that portrays the right image, as far as the naked eye can see, can help in the application for scholarships or jobs in ways that you least expect.

by Wendy Ng

The youth of today are experts in the field of social media. While academic knowledge might befuddle us at times, most of us can weave intricate webs of wonders with a computer and the various tools of web 2.0.

Social media plays a crucial role in keeping us up-to-date with the people around us. It is also a medium which we use to portray ourselves to the world.

From Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, to the various forms of blogs, we have a smorgasbord of outlets to express ourselves. We update our Facebook statuses religiously and tweet our latest thoughts almost instantaneously.

Blogs provide daily insights to our schedule and lifestyle, and in more gossip-worthy instances, our deepest, darkest secrets.

Big Brother
It has gotten to a point where some people forget that nothing online is ever truly private. The concept of “my wall” and “my blog” is being taken much more literally than it really means.

Yet information revealed through these various channels can reach more eyes than those intended.

Insecure adolescent woes and personal catfights aside, such unintentionally revealed information can unknowingly harm your chances of attaining scholarships or jobs.

Yet if used appropriately, these channels could turn into a useful aid in your various applications.

The power of the Internet
The Internet is undeniably a highly convenient tool to find out more about a person these days.

A simple Google search can easily toss up a person’s Facebook account or his blog, from which links to other social media accounts can be easily traced.

People search engines such as Spokeo makes it all the more convenient by handing you a nicely compiled tray of everything online remotely connected to the search target.

Out of the public eye
While splashing details of your personal life all over the Internet might get you better ingrained in your social circle, these same details could send warning signals to the organisation that is interested in funding your subsequent educational route.

Always take steps to ensure the general public will have no means of stumbling on anything distasteful enough to hamper your bid in making a smashing impression. Sweep the dirt under the carpet while there’s still time, before anyone comes checking.

For starters, utilize the privacy options in these various channels. Facebook has a privacy guide page that teaches you to customize the different privacy settings to best protect yourself.

Broadcast your talent privately
It is not necessary to lock up your profile totally. After all, it is still a means to create an impression of sorts, and a mildly favourable impression is still better than no impression at all.

A total void of information about you might hint at a potential social misfit, an academic genius unfortunately at a loss in this game of social media the rest of your peers dance an intricate tango with.

As a general rule of thumb, it is perhaps safer to keep your status updates and Twitter posts private. Minute by minute updates of mundane details in your life speaks volumes about your need for attention.

Juicy details about your social life might cast shadows on your character as a whole. Controversial opinions that can easily be taken the wrong way might spark irrational dislike and biases among people who do not really know you.

Treading the line
With such fine and subjective lines between what would impress and what would offend, it would be wiser perhaps to simply not risk others chancing on your updates.

Similarly, blog entries can easily be offensive, or raise doubts about you as a person.

Think about the number of times you’ve ever read a person’s blog and left the page thinking, “I never knew he was such an.” That could easily be the reaction people have to your blog entries as well.

Most blog providers offer users the option to post private entries, viewable only by people who know the passwords, or people who have subscribed to your blog with your approval.

Impress your viewers
On the other hand, critically written posts with noteworthy points and impressive writing can still be shared for the general public’s appreciation.

Similarly, photo albums of embarrassing exploits might serve a better purpose away from the eyes of the masses.

On the flipside, claims of your leadership experiences can be strongly backed up by albums chockfull of orientation events and leadership camps.

Tailor your online profile in line with the image you want to portray to potential interviewers. Leave them no room for doubt in wanting to get to know you and find out more about you as a person.

As much as possible, reduce any discrepancies with the image portrayed in your application package. Aim to impress, not shock the interviewers when they find out more than what you have nicely filtered and edited for them.

Tailor your online image
The more intrigued they are by what they are able to find out beyond the application package, the higher your chances of receiving that call for an interview, or even securing the scholarship and all it has to offer a potential scholar like yourself.

Privacy issues have long been an issue of concern with the advent of more social media tools penetrating our private space.

Seeing as social media is here to stay, learn to protect yourself now, and nobody’s complaining if you can use it to help yourself along a little along the way.

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