I still remember towards the turn of the new millenium when the only way I could contact my sister in London was through a NITEL phonebooth. Mobile phones and other forms of instant communication where few and far between. Then came yahoo messenger, msn and fast forward to a decade later, we have witnessed an explosion of different platforms that facilitates easy communication. The benefits that have followed as a result are enormous and there are many more technologies of this kind that I'm sure will follow suit.
As social media continues to grow and expand with its attendant benefits, our lives and rules of social engagement will continually be shaped by how we use them. I'm a big fan of modern technology and social media certainly falls into that category.
However, the use of pseudo names on social media platforms seems to give some people a false idea that what they type behind their computers or mobile devices in the comfort of their home is anonymous. A visit to a popular Nigerian web forum (which I'll prefer not to mention) seems to reinforce this argument. The use of vitriol and abusive words seems to be the norm and the sad part of it is that it does appear to be acceptable. Most debates seem to quickly turn into a tribal war for no apparent reason.
What people who use abusive and inappropriate language on social media platforms fail to understand is that whatever you put on the web remains forever. Deleting something from a website or web application doesn't necessarily gets rid of it from the web. Websites and social media contents are stored on servers and likely to remain long after you may have forgotten about them or think you've deleted them. We cannot predict where we'll be or what we'll do in say 10 or 20 years from now and you never know in what ways things you've put out on social media platforms may haunt you later in life.
Sometimes we may come across a topic or opinion we don't necessarily agree with, my top tip is not to respond to such issues when emotions are running high. Chances are that you're more likely to write something that you may rue later - try and do so when you're in a better frame of mind.
Recently a UK university student was jailed for aiming racists abuse on twitter at a footballer (Fabrice Muamba) who collapsed during a football match. There have been similar cases of this nature in recent times. What it shows is that what you say on social media is far from being anonymous. I know some people may say they are in Nigeria and it will be difficult to get them but believe me modern tracking technologies can make it very easy in the event your ISP is unable to provide information about you.
The next time you go for a job interview, chances are an Internet search about you may have been carried out. In the US, some employers have gone a step further. I read recently about the practice by some employers asking job applicants their Facebook passwords as part of their job application process. Whilst most social media platforms have security settings to protect our privacy, including our dear blogger, in reality they are all vulnerable to hackers and people with a different agenda. Only few days ago, an anonymous group made the UK Home Office website inaccessible, reinforcing how vulnerable the web can be.
As we blog and enjoy the thrills of using social media platforms, please be measured in what you say. Whatever content you want to share online, photos, video etc, be sure it's something you won't look back later and regret. Whilst I would like to dismiss any perceived perception of scaremongering, it would benefit us to know that each time we use the web, we leave an audit trail of who we are and what we've been up to but let it be for the right reasons.