Have you ever been tagged in a photo that you weren’t proud of? Or maybe you’ve seen a picture on social media of someone you know and thought, “thank goodness that’s not me?” And we’re not talking about unflattering double chin pictures or embarrassing Christmas photos.
Everyday, people post content that they don’t realize can have harmful long-term effects and possible consequences. Maybe there’s a video floating out there on the worldwide web that shows you drinking from a keg. Maybe you know someone underage who’s popped up in an Instagram picture holding a beer. Maybe you’ve seen a Snapchat in which, like a fraternity brother at the University of Oklahoma, the subject is heard yelling a racial slur. At the University of Florida, our student body president-elect was not only arrested for public intoxication after knocking over two motorcycles, but the entire arrest was caught on video.
Content like this can be seen everyday, and those who post it aren’t thinking about the repercussions that can stem from it. When compromising photos, videos, and even words are posted on the internet, that content, which can seemingly be believed to only be seen by a certain number of people, can travel fast without knowledge. A nude photo sent in confidence, a tweet criticizing a teacher, or a video using vulgar language about a fellow classmate.
No one can ever be sure of who is watching or seeing content posted or sent, and we all have to be aware of that. In the case of the Oklahoma fraternity brother, he was caught on video using a racial slur without his permission. Whoever was filming him posted the video online, and now he no longer attends the school. Case in point, he was not in control of that situation, and the lesson learned is that we can never be sure of what is going to be posted of us, so we must always be self-aware.
Now consider participating in something that you probably never have, but realize that it can be used here contextually: porn. Crazy right? Even if you’ve never watched porn, think about all of the people that have participated in it. There are millions of porn films and short videos out there floating on the internet that can easily be accessed with a simple Google search. Think about how someone in your graduating class could be in porn one day and god forbid you come across it by accident. Now think about all the people who would be mortified if they saw YOU in a porn video? Your ex, your friends, ex-friends, your sworn enemies, your siblings, your mother?
Integrity aside, the people who participate in porn may use fake names at time, but whatever it is they are doing with whomever they are doing it with, will forever be on the Internet for anyone and everyone to see.
The content that we share purposely, and the content that is shared without our permission will always find its way back to us. They come a part of our digital footprint. Think about what content you’ve sent in the past, or what you tend to be sending now. Now think about how that you could cost you a job opportunity, or acceptance into college, or a relationship, or an ability to trust.