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Ever since the latest information about the alleged NSA spying scandal came out, it seems like everyone has been talking about internet trails and how much of our information is secretly stored somewhere as people like NSA leaker Edward Snowden quietly peruse through it.

It sure made me think twice about what I have on email that should not be privy to the public, like financial information, personal notes, photos of my family and contact information of public officials. There is, indeed, power in the internet and technology. It is said that it’s the greatest equalizer, allowing people to research, stay on top of things and move up in the world faster than usual.

But is it really that much of a game-changer? Or maybe I should be asking, “Do we really use it in the right way?” 

Seems like every time I log onto Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites, I see things posted about what somebody’s man has been doing or somebody’s beef with a family member or friend. Why in the world do I need to know about whose a*s you’re going to kick next week, for example? Last time I checked, nobody really cares! What people don’t realize is that whatever you post today can–and probably will–haunt you tomorrow.

Remember: It’s the internet. Things never disappear. It’s there-forever!

I wrote a piece not long ago about women and technology and how all of us can advance ourselves because of the amount of access available online. But that’s only true if we are using it the right way. The world doesn’t need to see half-naked pictures of us or videos of a street fight. Sadly, our teens will never find jobs because employers will log on to social media and see the vulgarity being spewed on our pages: us calling each other  “n*ggas” and “bi*chs” and throwing up our middle fingers or our gang signs.

And we also don’t need to be spending our time online buying more things we don’t need and can’t afford. I am 100% guilty of this. What we should be doing is reading more, blogging more and creating our own companies. There are studies that show that Black women click through more videos than anything else when they are online. Why aren’t we using that web surfing time to find more educational opportunities for our kids? Or taking online courses to earn another degree or learn something new?

Where is the substance?

Whenever I’m on a social media site, many of the most popular items or trending topics are what happened on a reality show or whether or not Kanye cheated on Kim Kardashian. Twitter is where young people of color often create trending topics that can be funny–or sometimes, just ridiculous. If we’re obviously able to start conversations and get others around the world engaged, why not talk about something real like Trayvon Martin, the job crisis, guns on our streets, and how to save our children. We have power in our words, and people everywhere love to copy our style. Therefore, we need to up the level of what we’re talking about. Let’s get our concerns trending, instead of the latest beef between two people that we’re never going to meet in real life.

Remember: eyes are watching and reading. If people somewhere on the other side of the planet know about your struggle, then you can get more support for your cause. Keep that in mind the next you type.

Everyone needs downtime. I’m not arguing against that. But, instead of just looking up gossip or celebrity news, we need to use all that energy and technology to figure out ways to start new businesses, network and advance ourselves and people around us. That’s what others are doing. The internet and social media are not spaces to air out our personal business. The internet and technology should be used to help us–not bring us down. It has the power to be our teacher, not merely a place to find a new outfit or things for our home.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn spoke at a civil rights conference some time ago and said: “Access to basic broadband has taken the way we experience the world to a whole new level. Access to broadband means access to better education, healthcare, job opportunities, news and information.” If that’s the case, then why in the world are we not using it the right way?

Technology may not be our friend today, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be our best friend tomorrow. Think before you click, and definitely think twice before you post, please.

What you post will be available for everyone to see–forever.