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Things My Parents Were Right About: Social Media

Things My Parents Were Right About: Social Media

My parents have been a fountain of good advice my entire life. From deleting my Myspace when I got suspended in high school to letting me borrow the keys to the Audi when I had a date they approved of, they’ve always been there for me with wise words and lessons. Naturally, I ignored 90% of what they were teaching me and got in trouble because of it, but looking back now, I guess I can admit some of it stuck.

Their Advice

Son, what you have to always remember about the Internet is that everything you put on there is going to be there forever. I know you think you can just delete offending pictures or statuses, but they will always be saved somewhere and can be found by the person you least want to see them. Also, true anonymity is a myth. I’ve worked in internet security my entire life, and I can find anything you’ve ever put online if I want to. Don’t put anything online you’re not comfortable having the entire world see, and don’t say things that you can’t back up in person, because it may very well leak into the real world.

What your father is trying to say is don’t put pictures of anything illegal or morally reprehensible on social media. I know you think pictures of you and your friends and a bottle of (cherry-flavored) vodka makes you look cool, but not only will colleges and jobs disagree, you’ll realize how lame it looks when you grow up (my mom is ruthless). Even after you’re 21, you shouldn’t have any pictures where you look intoxicated, or in a situation where you look foolish. Stop “roasting” your friends online by sharing photos of them in embarrassing situations because it may hinder them from getting a job, or worse, their mothers could see them.

Also, if you’re going to “date” multiple young ladies, please be more inconspicuous about it on social media. If we can tell that you’re getting friendly with Sara, Rachel, and Aubrey, I’m sure they can, and you’re going get kicked in the you-know-what. And I won’t even feel bad for you; you shouldn’t be wasting time with those girls anyway. Find your self someone nice and commit – anyway, that’s a whole other topic. Just be careful online. And don’t meet up with people you met on the internet, they could be completely different than who they appear in their profile.

How I Should Have Listened

They were right. I regret every photo that once was proudly displayed on my Myspace, and I know that at some point they’ll come back and haunt me. I will likely be in the final interview for my dream job when a secretary comes in, whispers something in my interviewer’s ear, and that will be it for me. He’ll retract the hand he was holding out to shake on welcoming me to the company, and tell me my services are no longer needed. I’ll go home, google my name, and realize that a picture has surfaced of 17-year-old me in black face

To be fair, it was for a spirit rally where our class color was blue, and in an effort to look cool, my friend and I painted our whole bodies/faces. The blue dried much darker than we had anticipated, and we unintentionally wore what looked like a blackface costume for most of the day. I’m not a racist; I’m just dumb.

I should have listened instead of posting multiple pictures of me in college where I was more tequila than man. I should also have listened instead of continuing to allow myself to be tagged in photos with reckless abandon, and perhaps my roster wouldn’t have imploded after Aubrey found out about Rachel. I definitely should have figured out a way to lock myself out of all social media when I’d been drinking, and I wouldn’t have had to explain to people why I posted a naked selfie to my Snapchat story. Although I don’t regret many of the people I met up with “from the internet” (Tinder), my parents were definitely right that people could look nothing like their profile (looking at you, girl who used camera angles and witchcraft to lose 60 pounds).

How I’ve Started Listening

After college, I went on a major cleaning binge of my social media profiles. While it may not be as tidy as my parents would like, there’s nothing blatantly illegal or horrifying happening in any photos. Sure, I still have some pictures where I suppose I look like I’ve been drinking, but 90% of my blackout pics are gone. Somehow, I don’t think me writing about my life for strangers on the internet is something they wanted me doing, but I have listened to their advice and never said anything I wouldn’t say (or can’t back up) in real life. My Snapchat and Twitter are still full of drunken nonsense and my rambling thoughts, respectively, but luckily I’m in an industry where that won’t be an issue. If anything, my creative, witty, and even fucked up tweets actually showcase my writing ability and may get me a job.

I have stopped roasting my friends by posting embarrassing photos of them on social media; partly because it makes us all look bad to recruiters, and partly because that’s what the group chat is for now. I even listened to my parents and stopped meeting up with strangers I met on the internet, although that’s mainly because the stranger I met on the internet (who I’m dating), would probably not be happy with that. As always, and ten years too late – Mom and Dad, you were right.

Image via Shutterstock

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Nick Arcadia

I moved from California to Chicago to pursue my dream of becoming a pale alcoholic. Email me with any questions or feedback at: nickarcadiapgp@gmail.com

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