James

Your Social Media Tramp Stamp

Author: James Bischoff on 03/01/2014

Let me preface this blog by stating that it is my first. That being said, it is very important to me that it a) is high quality work b) reflects who I am c) has personal meaning to me in some way.

Now, I acknowledge that you may or may not have a blog. You may or may not even like blogs! I get that blogs aren’t for everyone. Some people have great blogs and some people, not so much. I’ve seen small blogs, large blogs, wildly colorful blogs, black and white blogs and everything in between. In time I may even find myself with another one, maybe one that isn’t quite as work appropriate.

Have you ever seen another persons’ blog and wondered what they were thinking? How could such a reasonable person end up with such a brash blog, one that can never be hidden from any potential employer or friend that cares to look? What would a future girlfriend think? What about their parents?

Before I get too Dr. Seuss-ish in my rhetoric I ask you to reread those first few paragraphs. Reread them and substitute the word “tattoo” every place you see “blog.” I’ll wait… Seriously, I’ll wait.

Ok- the point of that admittedly ridiculous exercise was to get you thinking of the similarities between tattoos and blogs. Now, take the short leap from blogs and tattoos to social media and tattoos. Did you know that according to the Pew Research Center, 40% of adults age 26-40 have at least 1 tattoo, and that my own fictitious research suggests with 100% accuracy that you use at least 1 social media outlet? Groundbreaking stuff I know.

Here’s one you likely haven’t considered: the content you post on social media is no less permanent than a tattoo. It also represents who you are as a person, just like a tattoo can. That first playlist you put together on Myspace with Dashboard Confessional, LFO’s summer jam, and anything by The Format defines you just as much today as it did when Myspace was running the World Wide Web and who you put in your Top 8 was a serious life decision. That playlist is also still floating around the Internet somewhere and accessible to potential employers or anyone else trying to learn more about you. To someone who doesn’t know you these split-second digital decisions you made on a whim will end up defining who you are as a person. (Ps- The Format is the way more talented Nate Ruess band before he got too cool and started Fun. If you didn’t know that we can’t be friends... UPDATE- Nate Ruess is now doing solo stuff, welcome to the bandwagon!)

the content you post on social media is no less permanent than a tattoo.

 

Just like a misunderstood tattoo will forever be judged; a half-naked sexually charged profile pic, Facebook rant about an ex, or decision to share a questionable Vegas photo on Twitter will always and forever be a part of the first impression you make on someone in the future. Admit it, we’ve all demonstrated a freakish ability to find someone online at one time or another- whether it was someone you met at the bar, a friend's friend's friend, or a potential new coworker. While we’re clearing the air can we all admit to making rash judgments about them based on their ‘likes,’ photos, tweets, and friends? Thought so. No different really than the rash judgment often made towards people with exposed tattoos.

Now as a guy with tattoos, and many friends covered in them, I do my best not to judge others based on their outward appearance. I’ll be the first to admit that in my circle some of the nicest people I know are covered head to toe in tattoos and some of the classiest girls I know are constantly posting half-naked-duck-faced mirror pics on Instagram… Ok, while that second part isn’t exactly true what I am getting at is that although we are all taught as children not to judge others based on appearances, it happens. And whether those prejudices are true doesn’t really matter because they are assumed accurate.

So it’s time for a PSA- in this digital age your social media presence is your skin. It’s what people will always see first, and the first impression you make. Now, more than ever, that impression may happen before you know it, and often without your knowledge. So, whether that lower back butterfly really is for your grandma or if that shirtless photo of you flexin’ at the gym was just an inside joke, it doesn’t matter because it may mean you’ll never get a chance to explain it. You have now been judged, labeled, branded.

It has become common knowledge not to have a name permanently etched into your skin, but we haven’t quite reached a point where people have realized the implications of poorly thought out social media posts. Yet…