Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Being Yourself.... Online and In Person

I get asked to speak at a lot of events for young adults, and there are a few topics I love to touch on after my main topic has been discussed. 99.9% of the time, I am asked to educate audiences about Florida's Agriculture, and more specifically, Florida's Beef Industry. This upcoming Saturday, for our county's annual Farm City week prospect show, my speech will be about becoming an advocate. I always include information about our beef supply, but this will be awesome as I get to talk about my journey from my awkward teenage years to self-proclaimed "Beef Queen".

After my speeches are done, I like to include a little section about college, life in general, and your online presence. I wrote about the elevator speech exercise for my last blog. (For that stimulating story, click here.)

I hear it all the time in my major (public relations).....

"Be careful what you post online, employers will see that!"
"Don't post pictures of the parties you go too, that will get you kicked out of college!"
"Don't use profanity, or you'll go to jail!"

Some of the warnings can be a little intense, but the message rings true. I am friends with people on Facebook and twitter one minute, and the next minute I'm in their class talking about something agriculturally related. It's important to me that I stay professional and polite on my page, because people see that. I hate the thought of someone going to a classroom to speak and saying, "College is not about the parties, it's about homework and being an adult", and then a student "friending" them and seeing pictures that should NOT be posted for anyone to see. That's irresponsible and unacceptable. I'm not saying that people aren't allowed to post on their sites, it's yours to post. However, I DO think you should use discretion.

I like to stress the "Dad-friendly" rule. This got a LOT easier... when my dad joined facebook. It helps keep me in check. Often, I'll see these young girls saying things, and posting pictures, and I turn into that adult. "What are they thinking??"

Social media is great. It's improved lines of communication, it helps with keeping companies and even politicians accountable, if they so choose, and it's made a way for us to reach out and tell our stories. I believe firmly that every person has a story that is worth telling. I would just hate for that story to be one that reflects negatively on your character. I have said all of this to say the following... here are some simple rules for staying true to yourself, but being successful with your online presence.

- Keep social media as "Dad-friendly" as possible. How would you feel if your grandma knew all about your Saturday night?

- Post positive things that you are proud of. Earned a B in chemistry? That's awesome! Failed that test because your teacher "hates" you? Not necessary.

- PG Pictures. We all LOVE to see pictures of you and your boyfriend, but we don't need to feel like peeping toms. Keep them as PG as possible, please.

- Pretend that a future (or even current) employer WERE looking at your page. If you have a problem with your job or a co-worker, find a solution. Don't bad-mouth on the internet. That has gotten people fired before, I've seen it happen.

- Use your best judgement and be yourself. Don't try to put on a front by any means, but act as if your profile directly reflected your life.... because it does. How you portray yourself online is a direct reflection on how people actually see you, especially since most of the people you are "friends" with or "follow" aren't people who are lucky enough to spend time with you to know any better than what they see online.

Please feel free to share this information, and educate someone you know that has an issue with posting negative or harmful stuff online. It's a bigger deal than they think, and it will probably come back to hurt them in the long run. I'm not perfect, and neither is my online profile, but I'm proud of how I come across as a person in real life, and online.

Thanks for reading, have a blessed week!

The Beef Queen

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