Most of us can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like without communicating in some form or fashion with our friends, co-workers and potential associates online. The free exchange of ideas that’s possible through social media and the web itself has transformed the way we get information, debate issues and stay connected – after all, it’s how we’re here today, linked on Newsone. But along with advanced communication comes advanced responsibility: if you don’t want the world to know your personal business, don’t put it out there.
For years, my Pastor, the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, has been pushing one simple rule – technology is not your friend. It took me some time to fully understand what exactly he meant, but after fully grasping the idea, I feel compelled to share it with everyone. Yes, technology has advanced us and opened doors we never dreamed of, but we must remember that it is and forever will be a public forum, not our confidant.
Almost every time I speak to young people, I address the idea of social accountability that comes with social media. Yes, your employers will look at your Facebook and Twitter pages before hiring you; if you don’t want someone to know everything you’ve done, don’t put it out there. If you’ve missed class for some reason, don’t tweet about it. It’s a very simple concept, but as we so clearly witnessed this past week and a half, even the most intelligent and powerful can fall victim to the perils of sharing just a bit too much.
So it begs the question, why do people share private info to begin with? Or why do they engage in behavior that they know is unacceptable? Is it loneliness? Is it just attention seeking? Or maybe an easy way to cheat without getting caught? We may never know the true motives behind Rep. Weiner’s now admitted online escapades, but perhaps the lesson for us all goes back to my Pastor’s motto: if you don’t want people to be all up in your business, keep your mouth shut and – more importantly – don’t post it for the world to see.