A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
Written and Photographed by Carrie Donna Kolba
You may not have heard of mySpace.com, but it’s a safe bet, your kids have. It’s one of the social networking sites like friendster.com, xanga.com, livejournal.com, sort of a cyber combination of a yearbook, photo album, music log, personal diary, and social club. mySpace.com is the biggest such site. With more than 50 million members, it’s one of the fastest growing web sites in the country. It’s free and easy to join. myspace makes it easy to contact its members. Adults and kids can chat about everything from school to sports, music, movies, relationships, pets, and life events. It all seems like innocent fun, and it can be. Unfortunately, many users remain unaware of the hidden dangers involved in blogging and publishing personal information.
Whenever I surf myspace.com, I can find scenes of adults or teens posing in underwear or various stages of undress, binge drinking, displaying and mentioning drug use, simulating sex, and in some cases, even having sex. I’ve also found less provocative pages, but these are potentially even more dangerous. Adults and teens not only list their names and addresses but also their cell phone numbers and schedules. This information gives would-be perpetrators a time and a place to find their victims. According to MSNBC.com “nearly a fifth of teens who have access to the web have their
own blogs.” Those teens may not realize that what happens on the web stays on the web, forever. Blogging is not just for teens. Adults are catching onto the phenomenon as well.
According to mSnBC. com, “ about a tenth of adults have their own blogs and a quarter say they read other people’s online journals.” Years down the road, when teens and adults have forgotten their blogs and web postings, their opinions and choices will still affect them.
The ease of posting unedited thoughts on the web can be dangerous, in part because others might interpret those thoughts differently. Speed is another factor, in that the postings can spread and multiply faster than thoughts. The effect is worsened by the fact that the information is readily available to anyone with internet access. most employers today, in addition to running a background check, also do a web search on the applicant’s name. The probing parties are looking for anything inappropriate. There are many definitions of inappropriate behavior. I suggest using common sense to represent yourself respectably. most importantly, don’t use your real name.
When publicly posting, safeguard your personal information. Blogging can be a great way to vent, but you have to exercise caution in the process. Don’t put yourself in danger or endanger your future employment prospects.