The Beautiful Answer To Keeping Overshared Social Media Under Control
For many people, social media is a means of living our life. We share our experiences, good, bad and sometimes indifferent, across a number of social network platforms. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and many others. We probably all know somebody who overshares. Every nuance of their life pops up for all to see on their given social media platform, and sometimes it’s enough to make us unfollow, mute, block or quickly skip through. It’s not just other people too – how many times have you dropped into your social media application and perhaps scrolled back to re-read something you posted some time ago, and you would rather not have said! Now obviously, I’m not going to share something like this on the website, but instead I’ll present an image of Zeus taken from about two and a half years ago.
The problem is deeper than saving face. More and more employers, businesses and government agencies, or anybody interested in what we have said over the years, could be digging through your social media archives. Checking out somebody’s old Twitter rants and Facebook arguments could potentially have a life-changing impact weeks, months, years and let’s face it, decades later. What we say online today has a habit of coming back to haunt us next year, or next decade. How many Best Man’s speeches have dipped into the groom’s Facebook history? How many potential dates have looked at a Twitter rant directed at an ex and have binned us? How many potential new employers have declined a bright prospect on the grounds of a drunken rant three years before?
There are answers. One is to get off social media completely, which is not acceptable for most people. Another is to use Snapchat, because here we can safely post and rant safe in the knowledge that material we produce is destroyed after a set time. The trouble with using Snapchat is that it doesn’t create permanent memories. It’s not the same as using Facebook and there are different social networks for a good reason.
Another alternative is to change our privacy settings in whatever platform we are looking at. Yeah okay; good luck with that! Some platforms have a simple on or off button to make posts public. Other platforms – such as Facebook – have a convoluted and sophisticated set of privacy settings that not only seem to change when we aren’t looking (or maybe that’s just me!) but require NASA to decode. Honestly, when I look through Facebook’s many options for locking down my account, it would be easier to plan the manned mission to Mars. I’m not saying that Facebook’s privacy settings is the reason why we haven’t already landed on the red planet, but it’s probably a contributing factor – even if it does not appear on the NASA poster!
An alternative to navigating the privacy minefield is to delete our old posts. That’s not acceptable for me. I want to remind myself why I avoid gin and tonic, or I am looking for a memorable event in my past that prompted a reaction, or sometimes it’s simply a case of looking back on life to prompt me of a memory: I don’t want to delete my stuff.
However, it seems that Facebook – or more specifically, a Facebook application – has come up with a beautifully simplistic solution to the problem. Instagram is introducing the ability to archive posts. An archived post isn’t deleted, but is merely made private, which means it no longer appears in your public stream. The idea is nothing new: even the decrepit Windows-based infrastructure at my institutional office archives files after an indeterminate period of time to save resource on our busiest network servers. In a couple of decades time, this looks to be a workable compromise between reminding and remembering the past without having a potential employer frown at my activities and rants twenty, thirty years ago.