“Are you okay with me tagging you in this post?”
One of my friends at Pacific is a UC Davis alumna, so a group of us decided to visit the school for the second day of classes two weeks ago and ended our journey with a stop at University of Beer for a drink. The drink to end the trip was my original idea.
My friend made a Facebook post about the trip and the grapefruit beer and pomegranate hard cider we purchased, prompting her to check if I was comfortable with the post.
To post the tweet where I admit to drinking beer or to avoid the topic completely? That is always the question.
I have always approached my social media carefully; I leave all of my profiles public. First, I hope I’m clever or interesting enough for random people to want to follow me. Second, by leaving my profile public it reinforces my value of ownership and ensuring that anything I post is something I am willing to allow strangers to know about me. Finally, it allows for my social media profiles to authentically represent myself, I don’t have the energy to manage professional profiles and personal ones.
So in an era of social media sensitivity and news stories of people losing their jobs based upon a Tweet or Facebook status, I’m incredibly careful about what I post.
This is also influenced by my role as a Residence Director for a fraternity- where the highlight for bonding for the men would be drinking with them.
“Party in Lil Mike’s room!” is the consistent joke when I join them for dinner on Fridays.
Although no parties have taken place, I am incredibly watchful of how I promote and interact with alcohol. Several of the fraternity members follow me on some social media platform- whether Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. There are also other Pacific students who I interact with on social media.
I live where I work—the fishbowl is a very visible one at a university where 2,000 students live on campus and 600 students are members of fraternities and sororities. It’s a small community. So if I post something, there is a good chance of other people finding out about it. This I why I approach social media with caution.
Originally I avoided posting or associating with alcohol in any way on social media. I think that’s any issue when working with college students though—the topic of alcohol is evaded in hopes it deters students from drinking. I firmly believe if a student is going to drink—my Facebook post will not be the deciding factor in that student’s decision.
I have a friend from my undergraduate, Julia, who challenged my perspective as well. We were talking about our experience within our Greek organizations and she told me how she makes a point to discuss the fact that she enjoys having a glass of wine with her members, both of legal drinking age and under, so that alcohol is not a shunned topic and her sisters know it is okay to have one drink as your drinking experience. She used her culture on alcohol to promote safe drinking behavior.
This made me realize I can use social media to promote safe drinking behavior as well. And I should. My social media serves as an extension of who I am; I can use that extension to let the students whom I work with know it’s okay to enjoy a glass of wine. By being open with my social media, I can create a platform where students can feel comfortable discussing their perceptions and experiences with alcohol, allowing me opportunities to promote safe drinking behaviors. I would rather have a tweet serve as a positive beacon for drinking culture than avoid the topic, reinforcing the idea that alcohol serves the sole purpose of mass consumption at parties.
I realize my approach to social media and alcohol can also impact the type of institution I will work at after I graduate. I do not have a desire to work someplace that limits how I use my social media or asks me to hide aspects of how I socialize with others. I already monitor and overthink how I use social media. I take consideration into how my post can reflect me that I do not have interest working for an organization that will additionally sensor my social media.
So the Facebook post at University of Beer stays tagged on my profile because if I’m not willing to recognize I drink, I probably shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dave Kerpen on Authenticity/ Branding on Social Media