Column: Take care using social media

Social media is great.

It’s a useful public relations tool for businesses and a good method for people to connect in their personal lives.

Social media is great.

It’s a useful public relations tool for businesses and governmental bodies, an excellent platform for news media to disseminate content, and a good method for people to connect in their personal lives.

When used properly, communication platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are invaluable. But the constant usage and proliferation of social networking has not only drastically altered how people communicate, it has proven to be harmful on occasion.

Bullying has always been present in the schoolyard. The difference between bullying today and the past is now it can follow you home.

Kids and teens can’t escape their tormentors if they continue to be harassed online. And unfortunately, social media provides the perfect platform for cyber-bullying.

Relentless taunts and hurtful messages can continue to be conveyed, regardless of whether a child is safely at home.

The Internet also offers a form of anonymity. Using it as a shield, a bully can cowardly hurl insults without physical confrontation, and possibly, with impunity.

Furthermore, there is the question of permanency. Photos that are posted due to poor judgment can be removed. But they can also be swiped off a website to be used in future, for the purposes of defamation, blackmail and harassment.

Social media, originally designed to share personal content, has also bled into the professional realm. Employers and recruiters can, privacy settings permitted, check up on employees or potential candidates.

Needless to say, there are more than a few people out there who have regretted posting status updates lampooning their boss or photos of “innocent” debauchery.

Young, working professionals now have to be cognizant of what sort of image they would like to present.

An example of how unfamiliar people are with their own social media profiles was Facebook’s recent scandal, where hundreds of thousands of users lamented the appearance of embarrassing, private messages on their timelines. In truth, Facebook was not sharing private messages at all. It was the users who didn’t recognize the bold and perhaps careless statements they made in the past.

Another evil of social media is its use for criminal purposes. Social media sites that facilitate immediate location check-in can put people at risk for home invasion. Burglars can easily prowl through social media to find out who’s home or not.

And while not as serious, social media has had an effect on interpersonal communication. People are rarely more than an arm’s length from their smartphones, which provide access – sometimes unlimited – to their favourite social networking sites.

Checking your phone at dinner was once considered rude, but these days it’s common to dine with someone who is intermittently tinkering on their phone.

Is this the way it should be? Eyes plastered on your phone rather than the people you’re “spending” time with?

Social media has successfully trained people to enjoy and become accustomed to sharing content. Facebook and Twitter have proven to be good arenas for thought, but when did people start to share the mundane details of their lives, or begin to enjoy viewing or listening to that content?

Ironically, social media has introduced a disconnect in relationships, spawning cohorts of young and old who scan through Facebook and Twitter accounts to surreptitiously “find out how people are doing.” Whatever happened to giving someone a phone call? Face-to-face interaction appears to have been put on the back burner.

Case in point, it’s more important than ever to be prudent when creating your online persona in a web-based world.

You never know who may be looking.

Sharron Ho is a reporter for the Sooke News Mirror.

reporter@sookenewsmirror.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice and Mayor Fred Haynes are calling on the province to develop new solutions for emergency response to mental health crises with the consideration of a potential new 911 category. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich mayor, councillor call for new solutions to mental health emergencies

Shifting response from police to trained mental health team the best option, mayor says

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic, operated by Island Health, has opened at the University of Victoria’s McKinnon Gym. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at University of Victoria

Clinic is staffed and operated by Island Health

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

BC Housing ensures that by March 31, shelter will be available to all people living outside. (Black Press Media file photo)
All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

BC Housing working to secure shelter locations in coming weeks

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale, owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Most Read