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Friday, April 01, 2011

Are you Socially Acceptable? Think Before You Click

I recently was asked to present a workshop titled, "Are You Socially Acceptable?" for a group of student leaders at a local college campus in Atlanta.  Many of the student leaders were present and the classroom was a full house.  Students brought in chairs from the hallway and lined them along the side of the wall.  Some sat on the floor.  I was excited to see the enthusiasm from the group, especially because they had just eaten lunch.
I started the session with a phrase that we're all too familiar with, "I Pity the Fool," by Mr. T.  The students were told that if they did the following things listed on my PowerPoint presentation slide, then they were not socially acceptable.  I asked for volunteers to read the bullets on the slide:
  • Do you tweet about not liking your job?
  • Do you have nude photos online?
  • Do you use profanity on your Facebook page?
  • Do you think you’re invincible online?
  • Do you have a “I Don’t Like My Boss Blog!”
My twin brother, Joshua and I barely skipped being Generation Xers, because we were born in 1979.  The cut off was 1977.  However, I've worked with Millennials for about 10 years and know that this generation is a texting, fashion trending, don't care what people think, outspoken, and computer savvy generation.  So savvy with Facebook and Twitter that sometimes they may tweet the wrong things.  Once a tweet and status is sent, the virtual world has it for life.

This was a good group of students.  I was surprised when I posed the question: "How many of you would give your moms your Facebook password?"  There were only four out of the 35 students in the session who would not give their passwords to their mothers. Two students abstained from the question, because they wouldn’t even think about befriending their parents on FB.  The other 29 students said yes.  The Pew Research Center's study in 2010 showed that, "One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month."

The students were divided into two groups and asked them to perform short skits about not being socially acceptable.  One group performed a skit about a student answering an obnoxious ring tone phone call during an interview.  The other group's play highlighted a young woman sending a nasty text about her coworker.  She was fired, because she didn't realize that half of her coworkers were following her on twitter and showed her tweet to the boss.

After the plays were finished and critiqued, constructive feedback was given.  I asked that everyone return back to the classroom.  There were a couple of seniors in the room, so I reiterated the point to "think before you click."  It was also suggested to students to Google themselves, because nearly every one these days are Googleable.

Lastly, the volunteers were asked to read some of my "Sojournerisms."
  • Think of the World Wide Web as a Web of Karma. What you put out there will come back to you.
  • Think before you act, because if you don’t then you may act inappropriately.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself, because whatever you’re worried about will eventually get better, and you’ll be mad for being upset.
  • When you walk into work, let the sunshine follow behind you.
My "Sojournerisms" were heartfelt, and also made the students laugh.  The goal was to plant a seed in their minds to think before they tweet or post.  With today's technology, students can tweet the wrong thing and be fired, not hired, or convey an image detrimental to their reputation and career.

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