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Safety First, Selfie Later

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Giving every aspect of your life a makeover this year? Why not add social media to the list? Purva Indulkar tells you what social media habits you should be changing

Last year on social media was a blast. We were all freaked out about the Zika virus, shared our opinions on Brexit, participated in the Mannequin challenge and made known our displeasure about the results of the American presidential elections. We also posted countless photos of our picture-perfect meals in quaint cafés on our social media streams and bombarded our friends with snaps from our trips to tropical Sri Lanka. If you got married or became a parent in the past year, then we bet your friends are incensed by your constant updates. And, since social media is such a fun tool in our lives, our hand (or mind) often slips and we end up sharing a little too much — much more than we intend too, anyway. Posting about every book we read may be annoying, but is still alright; every outfit of the day, probably not.  But, whether it is to protect yourself from making the wrong first impression on companies willing to hire you or for your safety, you should be more cautious about what you share online. Read on to see how you can use social media more conscientiously, without missing out on the fun.

Your toddler doesn’t need an Instagram account
Seriously! We know that he’s as cute as a cupcake and people always talk about how he’s got the looks to be a movie star, but your overexcitement as a parent may be putting your child in danger. We don’t blame you for wanting to put up every picture of your little bunny for the world to see (look at how cute she looks in a tiara!), but it isn’t a good idea to share pictures of your child with people who don’t know you very well. It’s even less wise to make public the name of the school they go to. Do you ever see celebrities sharing pictures of their children on social media? That’s because of privacy, so respect your toddler’s privacy too. Also, it’s best not to introduce your little ones to the concept of instant gratification such as ‘followers’ and ‘comments’. If they get too involved with their online personas, they may grow up to be obsessed with social media, constantly wanting to be the centre of attention.

Keep personal tragedies personal
We feel for you. Your cousin just had a dramatic accident and needs surgery. But, it’s best to have every conversation regarding this in person or over the phone. WhatsApp or Facebook messages (especially public ones) can come across as insensitive. If you want to wish your relative well, just get in touch with them. Posting something along the lines of ‘Take care Neha, may God bless you’ on Facebook will only end up with people asking you what’s wrong with Neha. It will look like you’re trying to grab the attention that Neha should be getting. Also, refrain from making announcements about anyone’s demise through social media, even if you’re really disturbed by it and want to vent. It’s never advisable to have these touchy conversations online, and definitely not where practically everyone can see.

Turn off your location
This has less to do with maintaining a dignified image on social media and more to do with your personal safety. Even if you’re extremely excited about visiting a restaurant or watching the year’s most anticipated film, post about it once you’re done with your meal or movie-watching experience. Posting about where you are when you’re actually there could possibly open the door to harm. For example, a particularly tech-savvy burglar may use it as an opportunity to ransack your home. Make sure that your children, especially teenagers, don’t reveal their exact locations even when they’re on vacation, because they can be easy targets for attackers.

Your personal details
Under no circumstances should you put up your home address or phone number, not even on pages that can be accessed only by you. (You’re not going to forget where you live, right?) If someone hacks into your social media account, they will be able to gain access to your sensitive information. And, never give out your banking details to anyone, especially over the internet. That includes your middle name, the names of your children (or your friends’ children) and details about your childhood.

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