Donna Freitas, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 2017
For many years, educators have urged students to pay attention to their digital footprint as it will follow them through their life. Yeah, true. Sadly, true.
Our actions online, no matter how far in the past, can come back and be used against us; a reasoning that lies at the heart of why you are seeing many in our space take active steps to wipe their footprint on a regular basis.
As a parent with kids just getting into social media, I have become hyper-aware of the complexity involved with cultivating the “right” digital image with both their peer group and with the neverending story that is being written about them on the internet. It’s chilling to think that you are just one bad post away from permanent damage.
After surveying 800 students & interviewing 200 at 13 different institutions about their social media identities, Donna Frietas has discovered that most young people are approaching social media with fear and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety — about being barred from college, getting kicked off a team or a sorority, being passed over for an internship or a job — are driving this vigilance on social media. The wrong post has the potential to go viral. So we have entered a new stage in the digital 21st century: the professionalization of social media. And that professionalization has led to a new phenomenon, especially among young people: the transformation of the self as brand. While that shift has been good in some ways, they, and we, have lost something in the evolution.
When people start referring to themselves as a “brand” – a marketing term steeped in the world of commercialization which reduces people to things – I can’t help but think that maybe we have approached social media with the wrong lens. With a corporate lens instead of a human lens.
But can we be surprised that the language of corporations is so deeply embedded in our collective conscious when the platforms we use to express our identity are almost completely corporate controlled?
Photo Credit: K D