Be mindful of what you put on the Internet

I have seen columns and other writings about the Facebook and MySpace phenomena, but I must write because awareness of this is so crucial that it must be emphasized.

In conversation, it has come up that these sites are a nightmare about to explode. Facebook is so easy and comfortable. It is one of the easiest ways to communicate, network, and keep up with friends, share pictures and stories, events, ideas, etc. It is centralized and easy to use, but especially, it is private and secure. Right? I don’t think so.

The minute we click “save” and that information or pictures are uploaded onto the internet site, we have lost control-literally, given it away. We signed away our rights to ownership of that information the second we sent it to the site. It doesn’t matter how many times we put in passwords or change our privacy settings. Once it is online and anybody has access to it, it is no longer solely ours.

So many of us high school and college students are jumping on the Facebook and MySpace bandwagon without thinking twice about it. We feel safe and protected because we decide what goes on there and because it is our site, our profile, our pictures. This illusion does not last long when we realize who has been looking at our profiles and going through our pictures.

If this doesn’t convince you to be cautious about what goes on these networking sites, consider this. Facebook and MySpace are both extremely accessible to anybody on the internet. It is not an isolated environment, exempt from the eyes of those in the “real world.”

Everything we post on Facebook is being looked at and the people looking at it are not people you may want to be looking. Don’t kid yourselves, we are being observed. We represent our school, our jobs, our departments. In this public forum, there are many people observing our virtual behavior.

In our world today, we are not merely who we are in person. We all also have our online version of ourselves. Can we really control this version of ourselves? Doesn’t it almost entirely depend on the interpretations of those encountering you?

If you are thinking that you don’t plan on still being on Facebook by the time you “get serious with your life,” like many of us think, you have to make sure to realize what the repercussions of today will be on tomorrow. The effects and repercussions of the phenomena of these online networking sites are unknown to us today, but we will soon begin to see how it is radically changing our culture and society.

In fact, there is the buzz around college campuses that various people are being watched and called out on what is found on Facebook, or warned against posting certain things-like athletes, work studies, etc. Some people already know that Facebook can effect a change we don’t expect. The majority, however, is still in the high of this new relationship.

The world is watching. Are you sure they see an accurate idea of who you are? Just remember, it is never too soon to think about the repercussions of our virtual actions and revelations.

Bernardita “Beni” Yunis is signing off for the semester. It has been lovely to write for you and hopes to continue to do so in the future. Beni focuses her studies on communication studies, international studies, and religious studies, and lovin’ every minute of it. You can be nice to her at