“In space, no one can hear you scream” was the tagline for Alien. It’s still held up as a sci-fi classic. We’re not here to talk movies today folks. We’re going to talk about the internet. And while “In space, no one can hear you scream”….
On the internet, EVERYONE can see what you said.
Ok, it should probably be what you “typed”, but you get the point.
Why bring this up? There seems to be a real sense of… what’s the word to use here… bravery(?) when it comes to putting “stuff” out there on the internet. And it’s cost some people dearly.
So I thought we’d take a look at a few common behaviors, and offer up some unsolicited, but friendly Beerbarrel style advice. Let’s get started…
Let’s start with an absolute basic rule. If you put it out there, it’s out there. The past few years have really given rise to a lot of outlets for people to express themselves online. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter have all risen to fame. And then there’s the availability blogging to almost anyone. I mean heck, we have one here so how hard can it be? People have gotten a bit too comfortable with all of these things, and therein lies the problem. When you hit post, it’s out there. For good. No amount of spinning or editing is going to save you.
“Geez, Beer… lighten up! It’s a harmless blog that I vent on. No one even really knows about it. If it causes problems, I can just take it down. ” Really? Guess what, it doesn’t matter. If a search engine (Hello, Mr. Google) finds a keyword in what you posted it may just go ahead and save a cached version of it, available for the world to see. You can’t edit that.
If you put it out there on Twitter? No going back. No editing. It’s there. Best you can do is hope to bury it with more tweets. Except, that would call attention to yourself, wouldn’t it? Increasing the likelihood of it being seen.
Let’s consider an even more common situation though. Facebook seems to be one of the hot networks at the moment. Consider this scenario:
You’re sitting there at home (or work – hey, let’s be honest here) and you’re eagerly updating your status thinking “This is going to make everyone *so* jealous” as you type in “3 days until I get to spend 2 weeks in the sun on vacation in the tropics”. A few friends then playfully call you names, tell you “you suck”, etc. but it’s all in fun. And then you get back from vacation, and your house is trashed. You’ve been robbed. How did it happen??
Simple, you made yourself a target. Here’s how:
- You told everyone you’d be gone for 2 weeks. Before you left. You posted it, including your date of departure. Yes, only your friends can see your posts but they have friends too, don’t they? Stuff can show up on a friend’s page and be visible to others. What then? In this made up situation, let’s just say one of them was a “less than a good person”.
- They knew your name. They knew when you’d be gone. They knew your current city. All they needed then was an address. Easy enough to get when you have a name and city.
So a few friendly words of warning folks. Remember that chatting with your friends online is not the same as talking on the phone, or even at a bar. When it’s out there, it’s out there for good. And not everyone who’s going to see it is going to be who you *want* to see what you said. Or the type of person who should see what you said.
Which leads us to this.. there is such a thing as TOO MUCH information. Or at least rather, TOO MUCH PERSONAL information.
So, for some of you Twitter and Facebook phone app users… lighten up with the updates already. Please? We really don’t want to know that you’re headed back to the bathroom for the 15th time today. The world does NOT need to know that.
Penny Arcade had a good example for that. Don’t be the guy from this strip.
So be smart out there folks!