We received this question from a friend recently:
Guys – Am I too radical for Facebook? That is, do you believe that my posts are out of place with Facebook?
If they are, where could one engage in a critical discourse, yet also be able to present ideas to a wider population, rather than to the small one that would be directly exposed on Facebook?
I am not sure, but it seems I just feel totally out of place and have a feeling that people might be afraid of political discussion. I am afraid that such a discourse might [come back to haunt me].
Feeling like you can’t express your true feelings can be difficult to handle – especially when you desperately have something you want to share.
In the days of MySpace, we would freely post photos of wild nights, and no one of any consequence seemed to notice. Now that everyone from employers, family members and good friends are in you Facebook audience, I’ve noticed that many people feel driven to go else where to share their thoughts.
If you are really concerned about your online persona, there are a few things you can do to take control of your online presence and enjoy being social online.
First, think of yourself as a brand. In thinking of how you represent yourself, let your posts be a public representation of who you are. What kind of content do you want associated with “your brand?” Can you comfortably let your freak flag fly, or do you want to go into politics one day?
Online, you can show your personality, share things you are passionate about and openly exchange ideas. By doing this, you don’t need to hype yourself up (I’m looking at you, kid), or work too hard at building a reputation. It will just happen naturally.
Second, control your message by adjusting your settings to specify who sees what. Anyone can easily Google your name and spend a few minutes shifting through links to find content associated to you. Creating Facebook lists gives you the power to express yourself to a smaller, trusted group. My list, for example, is called “Cool People.”
Finally, find an online community that fits your needs. There are all sorts of social online communities where you can have meaningful discussions.
Some people who are scared of the repercussions will use fake names. It’s up to you to use a pen name or to openly be associated with your posts.
Most of us want to share our thoughts and feelings with others, but it’s smart to start considering how open you are online. Thankfully we have the technology to allow you to control who sees your posts if you are feeling too radical for Facebook. And if your mom doesn’t want you to engage in political discussion in front of your grandma on Facebook, you can always start a Facebook group or head to another niche social network.