Let’s face it – every time you think you’ve seen the best the social web has to offer, some new social platform gives you something tantalizing to explore. And explore you do – leaving your digital footprints – the good, the bad and the ugly – all over the social web, for all the always on world to see. While you have the right to express your digital freedoms however you wish, (please) understand it isn’t possible to opt – out of or escape your digital responsibilities- unless, of course, your account is hacked into). It’s really as simple as 1 +1 = 2; if you have a social media account (e.g., @CorettaJackson), then you have digital rights and digital freedoms.

What Does Digital Freedom and Digital Responsibility Mean?

There are five freedoms (Speech, Press, Religion, Petition and Assembly) discussed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. All five freedoms are protected by The First Amendment, which supports the free flow of information in the United States. The Berkman Center at Harvard University researches how internet and society evolves as more people connect via mobile devices and social networks. Just as you expect to have certain freedoms and rights when not online, there’s a digital set of freedoms and responsibilities that cover everything that occurs online.

You’ve Been Googled

If you haven’t considered what your digital footprint looks like, please allow me to gently nudge you to find the time to take a peek.  I assure you, somewhere on the World Wide Web, someone – a potential employer, interested consumer or some other interested party – is using a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo to learn more about you. And when the need arises for a deeper, broader understanding of the person(s) behind information shared online, social web monitoring tools, like Trackur, reveal every digital step you take.

Momma Told You

Remember when you were a child and your mom told you to “behave yourself” and “mind your manners?” Well, no comparable authority exists online. Mommy can’t put a band aid on a digital boo-boo — meaning the only filter your social web decisions and online actions have is you.  How you behave online is completely under your control. So, if you plan to distinguish yourself online, you must do your best to remain aware of how you conduct yourself online. If it helps, act like your mom is watching!

Accepting Your Digital Responsibility

Here’s how you can take digital responsibility to heart:

  1. When you create (or update) a social media profile keep in mind what you share publicly can reach people outside of those you directly connect with.
  2. Remember each social network offers a different experience, so know how you want to present or distinguish yourself.
  3. Be authentic – and remain true to who you are. You, online.
  4. Always remember that a big ego will tend to self-destruct in a big way.
  5. Be respectful. Disagreements don’t have to be thorny.
  6. Carry yourself well. Allow your character (ethos) to shine through and guide you.

Let this Lakota Native American Proverb serve as a reminder:

YOU will be forever remembered by the tracks YOU leave behind.

Also, seriously consider this African Proverb:

If a girl sits badly, it is up to her mother to cover her thighs.” – Orma (Kenya) Proverb

How you take your seat online matters.

Think about how you want to “show up” online before you share or engage in conversations. Be sure to consider how you want the social web to see you because the internet never forgets and  there are some things mommy just can’t fix.

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