My brother recently went through a bad break-up, and the first thing I did when I heard about it was happily defriend his ex-girlfriend on Facebook. I recommended that he do the same. While there may be some people who remain friends with their exes both in real-life and in social media, my policy has always been more of the cut your losses and run. Rather than run the risk of jealousy or misplaced drama, I prefer to keep things as cordial as possible by keeping them as distant as possible. Of course, there’s another reason for my reluctance to remain friends with exes of any kind on Facebook, and that’s the possibility of social media disasters.
Now, a social media disaster can come in a lot of forms, but for those of us with fewer than 10,000 followers on Twitter and a meager 400 friends on Facebook, most social media disasters come from relationships gone sour. The one thing almost all social media disasters have in common is that somebody puts in writing something that they shouldn’t have been saying in the first place. Offensive or even mildly offensive comments on Facebook or Twitter, whether they are in private messages or available for anyone to read, can become a serious liability. Maybe you’re upset with your girlfriend and so you post a sexist comment on Facebook, which then gets around to not only your cousins and friends, but also to your coworkers and your classmates. The thing is, by putting comments in writing, even if they’re intended as jokes, you’re opening yourself up to problems. You may lose a friend or a job, start a family feud, or even get the police involved (depending on the level of the comment you’ve made). Part of social media is controlling your image, and so you need to be aware of the things you’re putting in writing. Just because you might say something to a friend doesn’t mean you should post it on your Facebook. I pretend that I now have potential future employers reading every post, which helps me weed out what I should and shouldn’t say.
Instead of posting something on Facebook, why not use the site to set up a meeting with some of your friends? Saying something in person is a lot less serious (or verifiable) than saying something in writing…just make sure that nobody’s wearing a wire at your table!