Social activism enters the technical age

Juliann Guerra, News Editor

Social media has given anyone with an internet connection a platform to share their thoughts and ideas. We have all become journalists in one way or another with the ability to share our views and start movements with a simple hashtag.

More and more young people are seen online becoming highly involved activists for what they believe in. The teens from the Parkland shooting quickly rose to lead a gun control movement. Their efforts saw a rise in gun-control laws, but not without backlash from those with different opinions.

However, because social media allows people to share video clips in real time, it can be hard to get the full story to the public before opinions and assumptions are formed.

At the 2019 March for Life event in Washington D.C., a group of Covington High School students found themselves misrepresented by what people were sharing online. The situation first appeared to show the teens harassing a group of Native Americans.  The internet was quick to blame the students for the entire encounter, but in the days that followed more information came out to prove that the situation wasn’t so clear cut.

Images of Parkland students and Covington students are forever on the Internet. Their names are known by thousands of people and they will never be able to go back to before they went viral. Their future job applications may be affected by their social media presence.

Most people may not be making headlines because of their social media posts, but many people have had an unflattering moment shared online. It is important to remember that what is on the Internet is a representation of the account holder and can be seen by thousands, including future employers.

Companies can issue background checks in order to make sure everything you say through a resume or cover letter is fact, and they can use social media as a way to do research on their applicants. Even if you have a private account, some companies are known to have current employees “friend” prospective employees in order to find what you’re trying to keep private.

Social media posts have been one of the reasons interview processes have stopped for some people and one of the reasons employees are fired.

“Think about how things can be interpreted,” advises Executive Director of the Saint Anselm College Career Development Center (CDC), Kim DelGizzo.

There is a difference between posting a photo of you holding a glass of champagne at a family wedding and a photo of you doing a keg stand at a college party, even if they are posted a week apart from each other.

“Of course, you can’t always control where you are and what happens,” DelGizzo concedes. Like the high school students from Parkland and Covington, sometimes people find themselves involved in situations they didn’t sign up for. Whether the event paints a positive or negative light on a group of people it is up to them to control the narrative.

“Always be prepared to address your decisions or mistakes honestly and with integrity,” DelGizzo advises. “Allow your employer to see that you’ve been thoughtful about your past and explain that it won’t interfere with your work or skills.”

It is important for individuals to defend themselves and stand up for what they believe in, but to also realize that not everyone will have the same opinions as them. When job searching, people should keep in mind the morals and culture of companies to make sure they will feel comfortable and welcome in that environment.

Every decision a person has made has contributed to who they are today, whether good or bad. It is important to make sure who people are on paper and online is a proper representation of who they are in person.

The advice from the CDC is to “be thoughtful about your actions and words, and make good decisions based on good judgments.”