Social media is the new smoking

Photo courtesy of: x-ray_delta_one

In the not so distant past, there was a time when smoking was expected; from the silver screen to corporate offices and even on airplanes, cigarettes were ubiquitous.

Even though all the cool kids were doing it, no one told smokers that it may not be the best idea to light up, so the trend continued.

Now, thanks to the Surgeon General and just about every health organization known to man, we have learned of the health risks associated with cigarettes. However, it is difficult to believe that because the government did not warn smokers of the potential risks, they did not come to the conclusion on their own.

Cut to 2010, between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, foursquare, blogs and more, people can and, often more surprisingly, do share: where they are, what they are doing, what they think and what they buy.

Once active online, and especially in social media, it is a slippery slope to the overshare. We have all seen it, the person that goes from sending vague “I am really stressed out” Facebook posts to one day unloading in a very specific, client critical and ultimately, job ending way.

Posting too much is a sneaky problem and one that there is no formal warning for, well until now: if you post it expect that Google will find it. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but definitely someday.

In all likelihood, 25 years from now someone will look at me and say: Really? You really didn’t think that sharing all your personal thoughts, photos, information and locations could potentially be a bad idea? Really?

And when this day comes, I will respond with: everyone was doing it and no one told us any better, which even now sounds inadequate.

In order to mitigate these future embarrassments, I now ask myself three questions before posting:

  1. Will this impact my current or future employment?
  2. Would I show / tell this to my Grandma?
  3. Would I ever want my future children to know this about me?

Anything that can pass the career, grandma and kid test gets approved. As for what others share, well, let’s be honest if I had an answer to that I would have stumbled upon the PR Holy Grail.

And yes, I did test this theory on my Grandmother and she approved, but then again she was never a smoker, so she has always been ahead of her time.