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The perils of social media

Character is what you do when no one is watching. We have all heard that phrase at some point in our lives, but our generation has a much higher hurdle to jump to live up to these words.
Social media has given us a level of connectedness that no generation has seen before. We live-stream our thoughts via Twitter, instantly upload a photo onto Facebook and record and send videos on our smartphones. Very few things these days are private; there are very few instances when no one is watching. These lessons have hit home to many on our campus following the events that took place on election night.
What occurred Tuesday is just a small example of how fluid our world has become and how having a constant sharing of information comes at a high price. The candidates, who encountered issues with social media’s watchful eye, could certainly tell you of the risks involved with today’s technology and thirst for instant information. Your actions, whether knowingly captured in video or photos or without your consent, can define who you are to people who may never meet you or to people who might one day be looking to hire you. It is imperative that you monitor your actions closely. What do the photos you have on your social media accounts say about you? A smartphone could easily record every action you do and broadcast it to the world. Do your actions match the image you would want the world to have of you?
While it is true that actions speak louder than words, the words that we choose to broadcast speak volumes on our behalf. I found it almost unbearable to log on to Twitter or Facebook Tuesday night and the following day. Status after status of what could be considered hate speech regarding voters of a different party, melodramatic to the point of being theatrical reactions to the election results, even condescending remarks masked by biblical quotes. I am well-aware that the freedom of speech gives us the right to express ourselves, but that does not mean we should flippantly make remarks for the whole world to see.
When your 20 or so close friends “like” what you have to say, you might feel a sense of security if not accomplishment in your postings. However, the danger of the connectivity of Facebook makes it seem like you are sharing ideas with friends, when you are really broadcasting your thoughts to sometimes more than a 1,000 “friends,” and the odds are that many do not share your beliefs, could be offended by them or misinterpret them in a way that you would have never intended. Depending on your privacy settings, your scope of influence could be exponentially larger than you might think, which is all the more reason to take extra precaution in the messages that you are presenting to the world.
As much as we enjoy our social media and all the great benefits that come from it, we must remember that it does create an eggshell environment, and one can never be too careful with the image that they put forward. Monitor yourself carefully because now your actions and words are rarely private, and they speak volumes about your character.

Anna Rush is a second-year law student from Hattiesburg. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @annakrush.