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Dear 80s’ Baby: I Think I Ruined My Reputation Online, How Can I Fix It?

Hey 80s’ Baby,

I love love love your blog. I never miss a post and I have finally worked up the nerve to send you a question. One of your posts that affected me the most was the one where this company wanted to create an online business profile. I read the advice you gave them and it made me take a closer look at my own online profile and I hate to admit this but it is not so professional.
I am a recent college grad with two degrees, one in English Lit and the other in party animalogy. Yes that means that although I maintained good grades, I also did a lot of partying with tons of post, pictures and videos to prove it. All of which are posted on all my social networking profiles.

I am on everything from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest just to name a few. At the time it seemed like a good idea to post all facets of my life online but now that I am in the job market I am wondering if it was the wrong decision. So my question to you is, should I be concerned about the things I may have shared on my social sites affecting my chances of finding a good job as an English teacher? How can I change my online reputation?

Ashley H.

Oak Lawn, IL

Hey Ashley,

Thanks for the all love. This blog is slowly becoming a very important part of my life and I look forward to posting good stuff every week. Now moving right along, you say that you majored in English Lit and Party Animalogy? That’s a good one.

I remember my college days and I must say that I had more than my fair share of partying. Fortunately for me, social networking was in its infancy when I was in college, so we had Facebook and Myspace but neither of them were anything like what they are now and I am thankful for that. Facebook was only for college students with a verified college email account, now anyone with an email address can open an account on any social networking site. You are supposed to be a certain age but it doesn’t take a lot to get around that. You can upload any kind of media anytime from anywhere. These sites make it easy to live your life thru these websites.

The downside to all this is you leave your life open for the world to see. And when I say the whole world I do mean the whole world. You can make your profile private and adjust your settings to where only certain individuals can see what you post on your profiles but if one of your friends “Like” or “Retweet” or “Share” something from your profile, then you are right back to having the whole world seeing what you posted. Sounds crazy but that’s the way it is.

Now Lord forbid any of your post(s) go what’s called “viral”. Aw man will you have a problem. Whenever something goes “viral” it means that it becomes popular through online sharing. Think of it as you have this secret diary and you leave it behind say in a public restroom. Someone comes behind you and finds it, reads it then passes it along for their friends and even your friends to read. Then someone holds a public reading of your diary in front of an audience. Mortifying right? Well that’s what it’s like when something goes viral. Usually as long as nothing on your profile goes viral, then it’s not the end of your world.

Ok so probably for the last four years you and your friends have been uploading pictures and videos of your social life like crazy. The first thing I will tell is stop posting those unflattering pictures and videos. I am not saying you can never upload a picture or video, but don’t upload anything you think you will regret later. Let your friends know that if they insist on uploading images of you then don’t tag or mention you in them. If they are your real friends then they will respect your wishes and if not then I suggest finding new friends who want to see you succeed. Facebook, as an example, has a feature that gives you an option to “untag” yourself from pictures and videos.

Alright so now that you have started filtering the flow of uploads, you need to look through what has already been uploaded and just start erasing the unflattering ones. You can still keep them on your computer or find some way to store them on a more personal website. Flickr could be an option for you. You can upload photos for free and sharing them is an option so no one has to see them unless you want them to. In fact no one has to even know that you have a profile with them you can just use this site as a storage unit for your pictures. It may sound crazy but remember the object is to keep the pictures somewhere that only you can view them. You know if you fell like going down memory lane or something. However to be honest, the real object is to get those pictures off of the Internet all together so they won’t continue to haunt you.

Now like I said I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t upload anything and just delete your profiles. By all means have those profiles and upload media and information about what makes you great but just be mindful of what you posts. Upload content that showcases you in a positive light. If you go out on a night on the town with friends, don’t post a picture of some stranger taking body shots off of your stomach or a group photo of you and your friends flipping the world the bird, but you can upload a picture of you and your friends without any vulgarity and just inappropriate content. I truly hope that you as an adult know the difference between what is appropriate and what is not inappropriate. If you need a hint, inappropriate would be anything you wouldn’t want your elder relatives to see or in your case an employer to see.

Keep your private life just that… private. There are just as many professional networking sites as it is social networking sites. My next suggestion to you is to sign up for those. They come with an option to link your social profiles to them, do not link them. Keep both of those worlds completely separate just in case you decide for whatever reason to regress on your social site it doesn’t necessarily have to leak over to your professional profile. I recommend LinkedIn as an option for your professional presence. You can upload your professional resume, search for jobs and network with other professionals. You may find people you know on there already and it’s ok to acknowledge them but do not give into the temptation of getting too personal with them. Please don’t cross the line between professional and personal with them. Remember keep personal with personal and professional with professional.

So the answer to your question is that unless your posts went viral, your professional life is not scarred for life. Focus on cleaning up your online presence to make yourself more marketable in your profession. If you need help with marketing yourself online, get involved with as many networking and volunteering opportunities your budget and time will allow. Rub elbows with other people in your field so they can become references for you. Ask one of them who is already established to become your mentor and guide you through the industry.

Now if for some strange reason you are not willing filter the content you post to your social and/or professional profiles then be prepared to reap whatever you sow whether good or bad. You will not be able to place blame on anyone but yourself. You are ultimately responsible for your future.

Good Luck,

The 80’s Baby

Gotta question? Email The 80s’ Baby at info@the80sbabynetwork.com

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