You know what I love about social media? It holds us accountable for everything we do. Gripe if you will about lack of privacy or being Googleable, but in a way I appreciate how easy it is to back up my past.
I was thinking about this after starting a new blog over the weekend. The new blog is one that shares stories of when I was younger and I was laughing as I thought about how my family and friends would totally call me on it if I embellished in any way.
Social media holds us accountable.
Let me explain:
Social media can spawn false experts and folks who claim to be something they’re not. People who aren’t who they claim to be are eventually called on it. My past is no secret and anything you want to know about my qualifications can be found online. However, if you’re thinking it’s easy to fudge facts, think again. Many of the people who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other places are offline friends as well. They’re neighbors, former school mates, former co-workers, and family. So if I were to fudge my details or make myself out to have experience I don’t have, I’d have been called on it a long time ago. It’s why I don’t claim expertise. Too many people would laugh at that one.
Can you fudge your qualifications in this day and age? Probably. But it depends on how visible you are.
Social media holds us accountable because:
Our friends and followers are both online and offline
I don’t know how it is with you but many of the people I share with know me online and offline. They’re friends, family, people I work with now and people I worked with in the past. If we’re not truthful about who we are and what we do, someone will call b.s. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s easy to fudge a resume or dredge up a past, especially for anyone with a heavy online presence.
My family and friends follow almost everything I do, if I pretended to be something I wasn’t or fudged some numbers, you know they’d be calling me on it. I’m guessing it’s that way with many of you as well.
Our past is verifiable
I could try to impress an employer by listing ivy league universities and top firms in my experience, but he’ll just have someone check anyway. After working in human resources I can tell you that those who are in charge of looking up information, really do check. They contact schools and businesses and call references. They even look beyond your usual references because everyone knows we only list friends as references anyway. With LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and Twitter, facts are easy to verify.
Google can dredge up anything. For example, if you’re vocal about the people who underpay bloggers, but several years ago you posted an ad for $1 labor, someone will find it eventually. If you say you once work for a prestigious marketing agency, yet their online roster for the past ten years doesn’t include you, someone will find out. If you claimed to have been a staff writer for a well known blog, but a search only turns up a brief guest post, you’ll be known as someone who embellishes details. Not only can people dig back and find dirt, some of them are more than happy to do so and throw it back in your face. That’s why I like social media. It’s hard to be someone you’re not. It’s also why I don’t like social media, too many people are out to damage someone else’s career.
Can you fool people online?
I think if you’re using your real name for all your accounts, it’s simple to prove who you are. However, if you use anonymous handles or a pseudonum, it’s a little easier to be someone you’re not. The case of James Chartrand is a great case in point. She had everyone convinced she was a man. Because she used a false identity it wasn’t as easy to learn about her and what she does, and as most of us don’t know her true name we have to take her at her word. However, as “James” she built up a reputable business. If she used her other personna for evil, the circumstances would have been a lot different. Instead, her friends, followers and clients chose to trust her and she does well using a man’s name. So yes, you can be someone you’re not online, for a variety of reasons. For some, like James, there’s no malicious intent. However, there are scammers and spammers who will be happy if you’re not able to dig into their past.
You can absolutely be someone you aren’t in our business. BUT I think eventually folks are a little suspicious and they lose trust when you’re not being yourself. If you make up stories about your past you’ll be found out. No one wants that. Social media is keeping us accountable.
Oversharing has its benefits…
In our world, the social media world, where people use their real names to communicate via the social networks it’s not so easy to pretend. Eventually it all gets old. B.S. gets suspicion, honestly gets loyalty.
How does social media hold YOU accountable?