Take a minute to think back to your high school days. If you happen to be feeling particularly brave, you can even think back to your cringe-worthy middle school days. Imagine the halls are buzzing with talk about social media, such as who’s friending who and what so-and-so posted last night.
I remember Facebook actually becoming a “thing” that people did right around the time I hit my sophomore year. Before that, we all relied on MySpace. Even after Facebook came around, we still clung to our glitzy MySpace profiles and top friends list like there was no tomorrow.
My parents allowed me to decided whether or not I wanted a social media account. Since most of my friends had one, I jumped on board—a sort of pack mentality if you will. However, mixing social media into the dark, angsty swirl of teenage years can be a mess.
As embarrassed as I am to admit this—honestly it’s like pulling teeth—my Facebook began to fill up with pointless status updates about my every thought, action and snack. I mean really, was posting about the bagel I just ate changing the face of the Internet? No, no it wasn’t.
However, I wasn’t alone in my silly use of social media. Most of my friends posted every movie they watched, every step they took and every time they sneezed. Some of my more dramatic friends kept their Facebook friends up-to-date with every raging teenage mood swing they had.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I began to analyze my social media accounts. I remember going back through my old posts and practically jumping out of my skin every time I came across a short blip about what I had done or was doing at that time.
Teachers, especially at the college level, warned that potential employers would scan our Facebook pages. Those warnings struck fear into my heart.
I began to comb through my old Facebook posts in a sad attempt to see what could be saved. It quickly became discouraging. I had been careless with my social media account. I was young, dumb and posting far too much.
My attempt at salvaging my Facebook account became fruitless, so I decided to shut down shop for a while. I deleted it—well, I deactivated it and waited for my account to be deleted.
I took a break from the social media buzz because I didn’t want to see myself represented poorly. Not only do employers reach out to Facebook accounts, but so do regular people. Think about it: where do you go to look up people in real life? Facebook. I didn’t want schoolmates, co-workers or people in my community to see a profile that represented my teen years. I wanted a profile to represent who I had become.
In my second year of college, I decided to recreate a Facebook account. This time, I vowed to keep it professional, tasteful yet still an accurate depiction of who I am. I didn’t want my Facebook to be “fake,” and I didn’t want to skate around any real issues if they arose. I wanted to make sure that when I posted, it was worthwhile.
Thankfully, I can say that I have kept pretty true to my vow. My Facebook account isn’t embarrassing, incriminating or overly argumentative.
I recommend taking a look back at your old posts. What you find might surprise and shock you into considering a serious reboot of your representation on social media.