Buyer’s remorse. Opps, I did it again.
Everything has a publish button. Every publish button is quick and easy to use. Every publish button puts it out there – in text, images, audio and video – for the world to see. In real-time. The Internet needs a morning after pill. It’s one thing to make a purchase and then have buyer’s remorse, it’s another to publish something in the heat of the moment. The truth is that many of us have posted something – from a simple tweet to a YouTube video – that we wish we could take back. In fact, according to the MediaPost piece, Think Twice (Or More) Before Social Posting, it happens more than we know. From the article: "29% of users of Facebook, between the ages of 18 and 34, have posted a photo, comment or other personal information that they fear could someday either cause a prospective employer to turn them down for a job, or a current employer to fire them if they were to see it. The survey covered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other popular social media. A form of ‘day-after remorse’ seems to be evident, says the report. Close to the same percentage of young social media users, 21%, say that they have removed or taken down a photo or other social media posting because they feared it could lead to repercussions with an employer."
Be the media.
We need to be making the case that people – young and old – need more formal media training. We used to live in a world where editors and fact-checking gave content creators the space to breathe, edit and reconsider whatever it was that was going to be published. Furthermore, that content would have to be printed or aired, giving it even more time to decant. That world no longer exists. Once you take a picture, the ease with which you can publish it is equal to the ease with which that you can close the lens. What seems like a good idea now can turn into an, "it seemed like a good idea at the time" within seconds. Yes, we’ve made some inroads helping consumers to better understand and use their privacy settings (according to the same news item, "82% of young social media users say that they pay at least some attention to their privacy settings. Only 6% said that they pay no attention and only use the default settings when using social media."), but there doesn’t seem to be a more public outcry to better educate our population about what the ramifications are when we’re not recording our every waking moment, but broadcasting them to the world.
It’s nothing new.
We are decades into this, but seemingly nowhere in terms of this evolution. So, if people are starting to tinker with their privacy settings and better understanding how public we all are because of social media, we may want to enlist the power of a morning after pill for the Internet – something that detonates that stupid post or idea that we had that should have never made it past the organ between our ears. Of course, the problem is that no matter how many safety valves we create, anyone can grab our stupidity, copy it and turn that into a brand new piece of content. Ahh, the joys of everything digital!
We’re looking for filters, privacy settings and better technology to solve this. We’re looking for a solution in all of the wrong places. Here’s the best filter and privacy setting ever (and it will work for everyone): before publishing anything (from a tweet or Facebook comment to a blog post or video on YouTube), ask yourself one, simple question: "If my children were to see this, long after I have passed on, would they be proud?" No, this doesn’t mean that everything you tweet must have the depth of Hemingway, but it does mean that cumulatively, the many platforms of publishing equal something that serves to honor your family (past and present). You don’t need to have kids to play along. Simply think about your parents, the family legacy, whatever.
It’s an amazing world that we live in. To think about how we connect through smartphones and social media in a much grander and powerful way is something that we should all be doing more frequently. We’re humans. We make mistakes. We say the wrong things. In the absence of a morning after pill for the Internet, give yourself a couple of seconds pause before hitting that publishing button.
Remember: just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean that you have to publish it right away (it’s something we all wish people like Anthony Weiner would do).