Social Networks Are Not The Culprit

There have been enough posts, tweets and articles written about Anthony Weiner… So much so that I promised myself that I would not add my two cents. Enough has already been said – right? Probably. But there can never be enough said about sexting, no matter who the culprit is..

We have fallen into what I like to call a “false sense of security” when it comes to technology and social networks. In spite of the privacy warnings by countless media professionals, we still feel safe posting almost anything and everything. Just because it is “my cell phone,” “my twitter account” or “my Facebook page” doesn’t mean that it’s private. It’s almost as if everything is public record. I’m reminded of the first time I typed my address into the Google search box and there was a clear, crisp image of my house with my car parked in the driveway.

There’s a lesson to be learned by all from Anthony Weiner, and the lesson is this; do not post anything on the Internet that you will be embarrassed to admit if questioned about it. Weiner obviously isn’t the only one posting sexually suggestive photos on the Internet. A recent study revealed that young adult men and women are sending or posting nude or semi-nude images of themselves.

• 33% of young adults
• 36% of young adult women
• 31% of young adult men

The following young adults are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages:
• 59% of all young adults
• 56% of young adult women
• 62% of young adult men
• 64% of young adults say they have received such messages

The question I would ask these young adults is this – Do you ever think about the impact sexting might have on you ten years from now? A few things to think about prior to posting what one considers to be a private tweet:

• Think about the impact of your tweet
• Does your post have the potential to damage your credibility
• Will your post affect others in a negative way?
• Can you own up to your tweet?
• Will a post or tweet that is sent privately cause you to lie should the content of the tweet become exposed to the public?
• Can this negatively impact the future of your career?

One could almost understand “sexting” by youth. Many are carefree and at times might not necessarily understand the consequences of their actions. However; for adults, I dare to suggest that better judgment should be in effect, especially the career professional that is responsible for making decisions that affect a large population. Some are quick to blame social networks and blast the privacy or rather the lack of privacy across social media. Social Media is not the culprit, the user of it is. Suffice it to say, it all comes down to common sense. Nothing is private as it relates to information that is shared on the Internet.

When I travel, I even find myself wondering if there are cameras inside our hotel rooms, the bathrooms… I question privacy on a daily basis. The same could be said about apps such as Foursquare and Facebook’s “Places.” We are literally throwing our privacy out the window. Many have adapted such a false sense of security that we unashamedly will post and tweet our whereabouts to the world – naive to the fact that we ourselves are opening the doors to self-violation and violation of our family and friends. Not to mention putting our selves at risk of criminal acts against us.

Have we become so narcissistic that we truly believe that others want to know what we eat, where we eat, where we party, what we’re watching, what we’re wearing or not wearing? The narcissistic mentality is destroying families, friendships and relationships.

There was a great post written by Ari Herzon in Social Media Today entitled “Does Twitter Breed Narcissism?” In this article it is revealed that a study published by Rutgers University states that on Twitter alone, the “majority of the updates are self-centered and the writers are less interactive with others.” Lovers of social media have adapted to this mentality. Although I would have to say that I find Twitter to be not as self-centered as the study suggests. All day tweets come across my feed by writers engaging one another in conversation. A simple RT is a conversation and an acknowledgement to the writer as if to say… job well done. Narcissism is fine in this realm of social media; it’s what drives the average social network user. However, when it is used in a way that has the potential to hurt others and damage your credibility, then you’ve crossed the line. As written by Alfonso Wyatt “Technology will not forgive or forget.” So much of what we say and what others say about us goes into what Jeffrey Rosen refers to as a “digital file,” as written in his NY Times article “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.”

Let’s take a look at the bigger picture of life. And while we want to share ourselves with the twitterverse, ask yourself is the image I want to be remembered by? There is a great lesson to be learned by the Weinergate scandal… what have you learned?

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