Facebook rule #1: Don't be an idiot
On Friday, I wrote about how the expectation of certain kinds of anonymity is a myth in an Always On post-Facebook world. The New York Times reported Saturday that the younger generation is learning to keep the seedier side of their lives offline. But this, too, is a myth.
Even if you manage to keep yourself from joining social networks or correctly manage all of your privacy settings against continuously changing policies (which is doubtful), it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep your friends from posting comments and pictures of you on their accounts.
You can request that they take pictures down or try to surround yourself only with people who you trust to mind your personal brand to your standards, but unless you decide to be a hermit, this is becoming difficult, too -- especially for the younger generations.
What is true for corporate brands is true for individuals: If you don't want people to find out you've been doing something stupid, don't do stupid things.
Truthfully, no one will ever live up to that standard. We all do stupid things. Everyone.
But if you're in the business of building brands (and all of us are, whether we know it or not -- we represent our own brand, our family's brand, our employer or company's brand, our church or religious affiliation brand, our political or philosophical brand, etc.), how people perceive you and the entities you represent is predicated on your entire body of work - not the occasional act of stupidity.
True, this may be tainted when we do the inevitable stupid thing, but that's just something we're going to have to learn to live with.
Don't worry about the long-term. Just focus on today. To prevent yourself from doing something stupid, decide to live as if your life had a noble purpose today.
And let tomorrow worry about itself. - Cam Beck