You most likely don’t have your mum or dad on Facebook, and you’ve ignored the constant notifications from aunt Janie who “wants to be your friend” but clearly doesn’t get the hint that you don’t.

We get it though–you want your privacy. But have you ever considered how much privacy you really have in the online world?

Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t, but one thing most of us have in common is that we can’t be assed to read those painfully long privacy policies. Regardless, we should always be mindful of what we post online and what we are revealing about ourselves in the cyber world, particularly for these 4 reasons:

1. Potential employers

A lot of you are entering the workforce, so it is important that you are very wary of what you post as potential employers will most likely look at your social media accounts when they are considering hiring you. If they don’t like what they see, in the sense that your constantly posting material that they consider ‘rude’ or ‘offensive’, then you may not get a call back.

What a lot of people have done so that they can still have a social media account where you can post all about your wild antics and your radical opinions, is put this personal account under an alias name or under your nickname (eg My name is Lauren, so I would change the name to Loz).

Then you can have another account under your full name where you can look hireable from an employer’s point of view and post things that are appropriate in a professional setting. Lifehack right there. 

2. Getting yourself into trouble

In high school my friend posted a photo of himself on Facebook doing something a tad inappropriate, although it wasn’t harming anyone. While we all had a laugh about it, somehow the school got a hold of the photo and didn’t find it very funny. In the photo he was wearing his school uniform and he ended up getting suspended because of it. Moral of the story, even though you think you are communicating directly to a certain group of people on the internet, it doesn’t mean their the only ones who are able to get a hold of what you post.

Remember that if you decide to go balls out online like he did, and yes I mean that in a literal sense (although we in no way recommend that you do). If your boss is being a bag of ass, or your teacher is riding you about homework or your mum is just being really annoying, even though they may not have you on any form of social media, don’t run the risk of having a b*tch about them online as it could very well end up getting back to them and you know how the rest goes. Save it for the next time you catch up with your mates face to face to have a vent, that way you know it will be kept in confidence.

3. Risk of going viral

When you upload something online it’s there for almost anyone to see, and its there permanently. After asking myself the question “If I was famous, would I want this to be one of those videos that the whole world finds out about?” I decided to delete a whole bunch of my Youtube videos from when I was in my early teens.

They could potentially destroy a reputation I will create for myself as an adult, or as someone in the spotlight if I am famous, but most
importantly, their just downright painfully embarrassing. Do you have anything online that would horrify you if it went viral? If so, reconsider its presence on the internet, unless you are fine with the fact that one day it could be seen and circulated by millions. If so, delete it from the internet and keep it stored somewhere safe, where the memory can be kept to yourself.

4. Reflecting who you are

Recently, one of the people who meant most to me in my life, a very good friend of mine, passed away and while he is not here physically, his Facebook account remains activated, and his posts are part of the legacy he has left behind. When his loved ones miss him, we can take to the internet and read/look his posts.

A lot of the posts are inspirational, humorous and heartfelt, a great reflection of who he was. People who didn’t know him get a hint of why he was so loved by many for those reasons. This leaves the question, how do you want to be known when people take a look at your online accounts? If you didn’t know you, what opinions would you draw about yourself when taking a look at them?

I still cringe when I think about all those Myspace photos I can’t delete from back in 2008 to this day because I’ve forgotten the password to get onto them. All in all, the message is simple–just do yourself a favor and have a think before you post anything online. Future you will thank present you.