Sorry for the no-show last week; between being off for spring break and the May-like weather in Connecticut, I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything other than lay out on the back deck with a couple Landsharks and take in some Vitamin D. Yeah, I know; I could have been down in Punta Cana or Fort Lauderdale going H.A.M. with everyone else, but when you’re in grad school and sleep is a luxury, your body suddenly has the willpower to say “oh hell no. You’re not putting me through a week of THAT again!”
That said, this past week, college students and young adults all over the country went south in droves for their respective spring breaks. As usual, there was the general drunken debauchery and random hook-ups that we’re all familiar with (and get jealous of after graduation), but something was different this year. According to a New York Times article from last week, spring breakers have cleaned up their act in light of the growing popularity – and danger – of social media. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore; it now ends up on your Facebook Timeline, Twitter feed and, if you’re not careful, your HR person’s lap.
The topic of social media blowing the doors on our personal lives wide open has been an issue for years now, but the ability to send information from your phone directly to these sites makes it even more likely that something will go online that you’ll regret later. Instead of having to upload photos from your camera to the computer like you used to, you can now have a picture up and tagged on Facebook within 30 seconds of it being taken. When you’re several rum and cokes deep, it can be tempting to post a picture of your buddy doing a kegstand wearing nothing but a banana hammock – you can use this time to go puke if that was too graphic for you – and send it out immediately. You aren’t as likely to post something like that when you’re sober and sitting in front of your computer, no matter how funny (to everyone) and humiliating (to your friend) it may be.
The big fear, especially among college kids, is that human resources executives peruse the social media networks of applicants. If an incriminating picture or post gets out there, that could be the difference between landing that cushy Wall Street job and getting rejected before being asked for an initial interview. With the economy the way it is and entry-level jobs hard to come by, it’s not worth the risk for most. Though there are privacy settings on the new Facebook that allow the user to control who can see what, it’s still tough to filter posts on mobile devices. So once a post goes out there, you might not be able to do anything about it until you’re near a laptop and, on spring break, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about that.
The new age of social media is definitely forcing us to police ourselves better. Though I don’t think it will have a significant impact on our social lives and how we act around friends, it’s definitely become a thought in the back of all of our minds; if someone’s taking and tagging a picture of me doing a body shot off this freshman girl, what could the long term ramifications be? It’s a sad reality, but it’s just another display of the power of new media, and how the spotlight isn’t just reserved for well-known figures anymore.
So what do you think? Is social media causing a shift in the way we act in our personal lives? Is this a good thing? Leave some love in the comments, and if you’re still thinking about banana hammock dude, I apologize and am not responsible for any nightmares you may have.