My younger sister got Facebook and that terrifies me. 

Not that she will deliberately post silly things. Actually, compared to most 15 year olds she is relatively well adjusted; not an attention seeking twelvie. But everyone has awkward teenage years, and increasingly people are living (and sharing) those years online. Eventually she will end up posting or getting tagged in a post doing something stupid. Teenagers are growing up in a digital fishbowl, where everyone can see every moment. People have to be aware of what they are posting and who has the ability to see it. As Howard articulates in “The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media” the interconnectedness of the internet means that institutional and personal coexist.

“A myriad of everyday expressive moments and the official discourse of powerful institutions” (Howard, p509)

And while we are always warned about the dangers of the internet but I don’t think there is a moment where people are taught about the true weight of their social media practices.

There are plenty of stories of workplace dismissal resulting from an employee’s social media because the reality is what Howard describes, everything is so woven together on the internet the personal and professional are joined. It takes a conscious effort to keep those aspects of your life separate.

In the case of the video of the Barminco miners’ “The Harlam Shake” lead to the dismissal of all those involved as well as spectators, totally up to 15 workers. They were not fired because of a breach of a Social Media Policy, in fact the miners said that the reason their shirts were off was so no company logo could be seen. However, the dismissal was based on the video’s evidence of their breaking several apparent rules and breaches of “core values of safety, integrity and excellence.  And this is not the only example…

I don’t think that there is ever a time where we are specifically taught to dictate our own experiences and manage our own public (or semi-public) image. And I think there should be. I regularly delete old posts, un-tag myself from others’ photos and review my ‘friends’ list on facebook. But I am only really aware of this because of information provided to me at a university level education and by that time most people have had several uninformed years of social media usage.

 

Robert Glenn Howard. “The Vernacular Web of Participatory Media.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25.5 (2008): 490-513.

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