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There’s a report this week about a depressed woman losing her health benefits because of some happy snaps on Facebook. There are many similar stories, including an MI6 chief’s blown cover and a sickie faker busted by Facebook.
How do you avoid this kind of conflict?
There are two main ways.
1. Censor your online life
This is harder than you might think. You need to individually vet every status update, reply, comment, photo and video to ensure it’s suitable for viewing by your mother, boss, bank manager, spouse, future employer, insurer and, if you’re a spy, everybody.
Not just your own posts either – you need to approve other people’s posts that include or refer to you. You may want to hire an assistant.
On the upside, you get to do and say pretty much whatever in the offline world.
2. Live as if you’re on a reality TV show
Alternatively, you can take more care in how you live your offline life.
The secret is to pretend someone’s watching. Because let’s face it: in today’s camera-phoned, socially-networked twitterverse, it’s very possible someone is.
I’m not saying you have to live like a nun or monk or give up your day job as an MI6 spook, but you might curtail things you’re not especially proud of. Raise your personal standards. Tell the truth. That kind of thing.
There are two advantages to this option.
First, you get to be a lot more laissez fare about whatever ends up online about you. In a way, it’s all pre-vetted by your being a generally cool person.
And second, you’ll probably like yourself more. Which is a nice bonus.
Life is easier if there’s just one of you
Wherever you go, there you are. You save yourself a lot of hassle if wherever you go – online or offline – you’re pretty consistently the same person.
Agree with me? Think I’m violently misguided? Please share your thoughts.