Are your feelings the same today as they were a year ago? Five years ago? Would you repeat today some of the more inflammatory statements you made when you were green and just learning how to play the game?
People change but there are forces who like to point to who we were then as a show of why we can’t be trusted now. Social media makes it easy; especially now that Google is including Twitter tweets in search results.
That’s why more and more people are joining the Tweeter-deleters; a select group of social media users who systematically delete their social media history on a regular basis.
Kevin Roose of Fusion recently posted a fascinating article about the delete elite. He says, that even though there are plenty of cases where the past literally came back to destroy people, the folks he interviewed were more about the moment than the past.
Said one interviewee,
“Tweets are like conversations. You say things, other people respond, you might learn and change your mind. So, since they’re ethereal…why leave them around forever?”
Twitter wants them kept forever so they leave an indelible trail back to the app when people search keywords online. Facebook wants you to think of the site as a permanent record of your life that you can look back on and reminisce. You wouldn’t throw out photos from the family photo album, would you?
But there are plenty of people who wish they’d never fallen into that trap in the first place. One wrong phrase – taken out of context 3 years later – can be enough to hang a new CEO who used to be freer with his thoughts on just about everything. Just Google the phrase ‘fired over Tweets” and you’ll be amazed by how often it happens.
Many people who were fired because of a Tweet got what they deserved. Teachers, journalists, police officers and other trusted figures shouldn’t be making inappropriate, racist, sexist or vulgar statements on social media.
Let’s take that a step further; no one should be making inappropriate, racist, sexist or vulgar statements on social media. Doesn’t matter what your business is; as soon as you cross that line you’re asking for trouble. You can yell freedom of speech all you like, but the reality is, no one wants to do business with someone who can’t control themselves in a public forum.
Perhaps you’re not like that. Maybe you’ve never said anything on social media you wouldn’t say to your mother. That’s wonderful, but that doesn’t mean your statements from a year ago are worth saving and revisiting.
Deleting old social media posts is as much about cleaning out internet clutter as it is about protecting your reputation.
Snapchat understands that. Their entire raison d’être is the auto-destruction of posts made on the app. Probably a good thing, as the loose lipped teen users of today are the high-powered public figures of tomorrow. Remember that photo you Tweeted from that wild club during Spring Break? You might want to delete that now before those political aspirations kick in.
To delete or not to delete? That is today’s question.