Don’t let a good thing turn bad.
The Internet can be a good thing. But Bonnie Prince Harry — who was caught literally with his pants down in photos that have resulted in massive exposure (so to speak) on the Internet this past week – has learned that the Internet can also be a very badplace. And, as the Royal Redhead’s Las Vegas photos have apparently resulted in damaged relationships, expected disciplinary action by the British Army and an anticipated dressing down (sorry) by Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales has also discovered that the Internet can have its ugly side.
The Difference Between You and Prince Harry
Now I realize that the rules that you and I must live by don’t always apply to those of royal birth, but I believe that the Internet is the great equalizer. Because his embarrassing behavior has been caught on camera and circulated to the world, Prince Harry’s image has suffered in terms of respect, trust, admiration and reliability, probably for some time to come. Many of his contemporaries might find his antics amusing at the moment, but the important areas of his life and his long-term brand have certainly been compromised. But Prince Harry’s woes aside, imagine for a moment if that were you in the photos. Would nude photos of you circulating on the Internet impact your reputation at school, on the job, with college admissions officials, recruiters, your boss, coworkers, colleagues, classmates, neighbors, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, family and friends?
Of course it would. What’s that? You’re wondering what are the chances of your being caught having lost all your clothes in a game of strip poker in an $8,000 dollar-per-night suite at a hotel on the Las Vegas strip? Perhaps that’s not terribly likely, although you never know! But what about photos snapped of you going viral and causing a major flap after a wild night with your friends at a not very properly supervised party, or of you and your friends partaking in some not very well thought out doings at an after-prom party, or some incriminating images of you on campus indulging in a prohibited activity or even a picture of you performing some silly antics in the privacy of your own room? What do you think would happen? Can’t you just hear Peeves chanting:
You are toast!
It cannot be stated too often that avoiding situations that can place you in compromising positions is a good thing, that posting inappropriate photos of yourself or your friends (or anyone else) online is a bad thing, and that the discovery of such photos by people who matter in your life can cause the situation to turn ugly. So, I’m betting that you’re smarter than Prince Harry, and that this will not happen to you.
It’s Time to Get Serious
It’s not too soon to get cracking on your Internet presence. Using the SWOT analysis from last week’s post, determine the weaknesses and threats to your Internet presence and take immediate steps to correct them wherever possible. You should view your online presence as a major marketing tool for you and your life and career goals. It’s wise to remember that your online presence is public, and that the details of your life will be seen by many people, including those who can post photos of you as well as others who are determined enough to find ways around your privacy settings. To put your best foot forward and create an outstanding Internet presence, create – or recreate – welcoming, attractive, informative and interesting sites on the sites of your choosing, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, your personal website, and so on — that are free from embarrassing, unsuitable and incriminating elements.
Start with Your Photos
Assess your signature photo or profile picture on each site where you have established a presence. Does your personal photo represent you the way you wish to be viewed? Is it flattering and appealing? Do you think it attracts or repels people? Is it a representative photo or a novelty, gimmicky photo that portrays you as silly or immature? Does it reassure or shock? Is it appropriate to the site? For example, on Facebook your photo can be more casual, even set with a backdrop of a favorite location or sport and you should be clad tastefully but with your particular flair. On LinkedIn, however, your photo should be a more corporate-looking professional head-shot; and take note that employers, recruiters and others looking for talent in a particular field are more likely to open a LinkedIn page that contains a photo. Just make sure your photo will appeal to a college recruiter or hiring manager in your chosen field.
Next, review all the photos that have been posted on your site(s) to ensure that they are not improper, lewd, obscene, offensive, revealing or in any way portray you or those to whom you are related or with whom you associate in a bad or disreputable light. Replace them with upbeat, admirable and impressive photos of yourself, friends and family. You don’t want to be caught with your pants down on the Internet — figuratively or literally.
Join me next week as we continue to address your Internet presence!
And, remember that your feedback and questions are most welcome.
Until next time,