Ah, Facebook. It encapsulates both the joy and despair of a college student’s existence. It can gobble up your soul while you’re composing that perfect wall post to your (maybe he / she likes me) crush.
You might spend more time crafting your perfect Facebook profile and finding that awesome Facebook profile pic than ALL of the time you spent preparing for college applications. Scary.
Not that I’m any avid user of social networking sites by any means, here are some useful ground rules for not completely messing up your internet trail forever.
1) Don’t be stupid
Um. Yes. Don’t be stupid. Mankiw can be a Facebook stalker, and so can your admissions officer. Keep anything illegal or unduly incriminating off of Facebook. Use your old and almost defunct MySpace instead.
Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want posted of yourself. So that hysterical photo of your Craaaazaaaay Freshmen Rooomates — leave off the internet and on your hard drive (maybe).
3) Maintain privacy settings religiously
For ANY social networking site that uses you real name or your REAL contact information (email etc.), understand how public your information is. Do not assume it’s private and starting posting compromising pictures of yourself.
If it gets public, it gets ARCHIVED forever on the internet. And you’re never going to be able to get that back (gee, wonder what this reminds me of). (Unless you’re golf-buddies with the Google CEO.)
4) Keep two accounts
For Facebook, I have 2 accounts. One for my (ir)regular Facebooking needs, and one if my coworkers or bosses want to be hip and friend me. Guess which one is associated with my real name turned into a vanity user name / url?
For LinkedIn, which imo should be professional always, I have my one account. In the event I decide to break away and reinvent my career path, I’ll be sure to create another one.
For email, keep track of your email addresses. I think I have 5 or so, and I associate them in a rational manner whenever I’m signing up for anything. (And always rifle through your Spam folders on the occassion!)
5) Indispensible Social Media Networks
Facebook because everyone uses Facebook and is telepathically connected to it — great for getting ahold of people you don’t have emails for. Just try to limit your Facebook stalking, please.
Gmail because everyone uses Gmail and a lot of people are on GChat / GTalk (whatever they’re calling it nowadays) and it’s a good way to instanteously get ahold of people. For people nearing their senior year, it’s a good way of having people’s addresses once their school account becomes defunct.
LinkedIn is more for the upperclassmen looking off into the dreary bleak future of 50-ish working years. There’s not really a rush to get a hold of this sort of account, but it’s a good passport so-to-speak when you’re dabbling in the corporate world in the form of internships and want to maintain a not-so-sketchy connection.
6) Other fun, time-consuming social media networks that you should join at your own risk
Yes, there’s a reason why these are unlinked.
- iminlikewithyou.com for addictive games
- (hulu.com for freeee streaming movies and tv shows)
- digg.com or reddit.com or stumbleupon.com for the internet meme junkies
- mixx.com or metafilter.com for internet news junkies
- 4chan.org or somethingawful.com for those people who start internet memes
- answers.yahoo.com or fluther.com for people with questions and free time
- delicious.com or listography.com for the list-obsessed
- addictionary.org or 43things.com or docstoc.com just because
- ning.com because you want a social networking site Just For You!
- yelp.com or rottentomatoes.com because you’re opinionated, damnit
- twitter.com or blogger.com or wordpress.com or tumblr.com for the self-absorbed :)
- blah blah blah, social networking sites are a dime a dozen
7) Do I need a blog to be like cool?
No. But I’m sure there will be a post dedicated to Harvard kids who want to start up their own blogs one day.
8) Own your domain name
Maybe you’re too young, maybe I’m too paranoid. I recommend owning your very own plot of internet real estate, a domain name.
For instance, I own my firstnamelastname.com and firstnamelastname.net addresses. You can register them on a number of different sites out in the webosphere. All you really need is to register it and renew it yearly. This prevents other people from stealing your valuable piece of internet property from underneath your toes right when you’re about to make it BIG.
You don’t even need a hosting account or a web page. All you really need is to own that plot of land.
I swear — one day, all of the baby naming guides on the internet will just be double checking which internet domain names are still available.
9) Own your Google Profile
Same thing as your Facebook vanity user name / URL, you might want to own your Google Profile (linked up to your eternal Gmail address [but first think on what you want Google to know about you]) so that search results will point to YOU!
And NOT, that firstnamelastname.com address you forgot to buy when you were 21 and is now a site like whitehouse.com (NSFW — snarkles)
10) Did I mention, don’t be stupid?
Your web trail is forever. But as people younger than me, you should know this already.
Although, someone forgot to clue in the stupid people who engage in sexting.