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VOL. 133 | NO. 108 | Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Angela Copeland

The Social Media Tattoo

Angela Copeland

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Have you ever considered getting a tattoo? Or had a child ask you about getting one? If you have, you know it can be a tough decision.

Getting a tattoo is very personal. Tattoos are permanent. They have a personal meaning that often ties back to your beliefs or your experiences. If you decide to get a tattoo, you’ll consider where the tattoo will be located. You’ll decide if you want people to see it all the time or just some of the time, depending on which clothing will cover it.

You probably wonder where I’m going with this line of thought. I was recently asked about social media during a radio interview. How should we use it? What should we post online, and what should we keep to ourselves?

Given everything going on in the world today, what we share on social media is such a difficult and personal question. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. On one hand, with all of the important political issues that are in the news, you may feel compelled to speak out and be heard. On the other, you may be hesitant to make waves.

Whatever you decide to share, one thing is for sure. What you post on the internet is permanent. It’s like you’re writing in permanent marker each and every time you share.

Sometimes the things we write don’t seem permanent. Our online presence appears to be in our control. We can delete anything we add to the internet, after all.

But don’t be fooled. There are a number of ways that everything you write online is permanent. There’s a website called the “Wayback Machine” that archives web content. It doesn’t have a copy of every site and every piece of content, but you would be surprised how much is there. Visit archive.org and look up your favorite website. You’ll find that you can look at copies of the site from years ago. It’s pretty incredible.

Then there are printouts and screenshots, and all the other ways that your posts and tweets can be memorialized without your consent.

Does this mean that you should stop tweeting? No, it doesn’t. But, it means that you want to consciously think about what you want to be known for. You want to be aware of your “online brand.”

This is especially true if you’re looking for a new job. Employers will no longer accept your resume at face value. They’ll go to Google and search for your name. They will look at all of the content that pops up, whether it’s text or photos. And, sadly, they will judge you. That’s a part of the modern-day life we’re living.

Again, there’s no right answer to this question. What you choose to share is up to you. But, remember, the content you share online is an internet tattoo that will follow you long after you outgrow it.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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