Digital Presence: To What Extent?

In our world today, it seems almost impossible to avoid having an online presence. We connect with friends and family over Facebook or Twitter, find jobs through Indeed and LinkedIn, and complete our school work with Google Docs and Turnitin.com. Colleges and jobs include internet searches in their background checks. If you have an unprofessional digital presence it could affect your ability to get a job. On the other hand, having no digital presence could also be an issue.

Think of it this way: You are trying to find a roommate and have three options: A, B, and C. You don’t know any of them. How do you find out more about them? You decide to look them up on instagram. Person A’s account has a lot of pictures of them out partying, in rooms full of pizza boxes and empty cups. Person B has no social media. Person C just has pictures of their family and friends. Out of these options, which one would you choose to room with? I and many others would probably choose Person C. With Person A I would be worried about them being messy and loud, coming home at odd hours. Person B I know nothing about, are they worth the risk? Meanwhile Person C seems nice enough and looks like the best option.

Now I know this is a judgement off of a lot of stereotypes, but unfortunately this is how the world works. This is similar to Seth Godin’s example about looking for a housekeeper. An employer would look at these three candidates in the same way and will judge the lack of a profile just as much as a bad one.

Hopefully this illustrates how important it is for us to control our own digital presence and cater it to our viewers. If I’m applying for a job or something where I know someone will be looking me up, I want to make sure my public profiles are clean and don’t show me in a negative light. I might have an instagram or facebook under my name that has posts about things like my family, pets, and other things that are important to me and I want others to know about. If I want social media to connect to my friends and be a bit more laid back, I might have a snapchat account or a private instagram not connected to the email or name employers would be looking for.

W. Ian O’Byrne gives good insight into how to separate your accounts and address your audience. He encourages us to think about what information we want to keep public and to know the purpose of our posts and accounts. By doing so we can gain control over our digital presence and control how we are seen by others.

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