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What you write now on social media may come back to haunt you

April 29th, 2019

With the ever growing expansion of social media into many aspects of our day to day lives, never has it been easier to share your thoughts and feelings, your opinions, your advice and your funny bone with the rest of the world.

  • In years gone by, it was assumed to be a passing fad: This turned out not to be true.
  • In years gone by, it was assumed to only be used by younger people: This turned out not to be true.
  • In years gone by, it was assumed to only be used for personal sharing, never business: This turned out not to be true.

What you write and share on social media has a much, MUCH further reach than you may think:

Surprised.jpg Photo credit: https://www.pexels.comThe easiest way to see this for your self, rather than merely my words is to open a browser than you do not regularly use - This is important [1] - Choose a major search engine, such as Google or Bing: Now: In the search bar, type your name and the city in which you live. The reason for this is that this is the most common search that is first performed by someone who may be considering you for employment, investment in your business, partnership or even for dating.

You may be surprised at what turns up.

For people who share only recipes and pictures of cute kittens - this may not be an issue at all.

HOWEVER: For many of us who share political opinions, perhaps edgy humour or even opinions on local events: This can potentially have a serious effect on your life.

A friend of mine and I were recently chatting about this: My friend happens to lean quite "left" on the political scale (Any of you who have read my words, over the years, know that I tend to be a centrist with a slight lean towards the small-c conservative right) - The potential issue for my friend is that we happen to live in a very "large-C" Conservative area of our province. He was telling me about a few potential employment opportunities that had suddenly vanished: This was after the initial interview had gone well and discussions on scope and nature of work were well underway and then... nothing.

Now: One cannot conclusively "prove" his prolific left-of-centre political postings were the reason for this: No employer without a business-suicide wish would ever admit to not hiring someone due to their political leanings; HOWEVER: In actually speaking to employers, off-the-record and asking them if they would hire someone who was politically active in a direction opposite to their own, the most honest answer I have commonly heard is this "Well, of course we're not allowed to discriminate in that manner and I would like to say that I wouldn't, but, if I had a choice between someone who was my political opposite and someone who was not: I will choose the latter, every single time, unless the skills and ability of the first person were overwhelmingly above that of of the other."

Political and social activism is admirable: Indeed, it is a much-needed thing, in today's day and age of increasing polarization of views in public: I am certainly not suggesting that it should not be done, but I am saying that one should be aware of potential consequences. As they say in advertising: "Consider your audience". It does not mean that you will be forced to live under a trestle bridge and eat cat food for the rest of your life, but it CAN limit some of your choices or make things a little harder, if you are a lone voice in the middle of an opposing crowd.

[1] Use a browser that you rarely use because the cookies and accounts you use regularly are often used to influence your searches to show you results that are more related to your past activity. While this is helfpul in day-to-day use, the purpose of this exercise is to see what the general public would see in searching for your name and location.

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