Students will do the right thing, for the WRONG reason
And they will do it too late, for the wrong places.
In recent years, some students gained acceptance to Harvard University only to have that acceptance rescindedbefore they even got started. The reason? “Inappropriate social media posts”.
College is just like work, isn’t it?
In a sense, there is nothing new in these news. This is just the extension to student life of what already happens among “grown-ups”. Warnings that “digital dirt” could harm job searches were already online TEN YEARS AGO:
- Just like Vegas, what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet”
- “Job seekers are being judged by what “digital dirt” can be found on them online”
- “Being invisible is also bad; blogs and forums help create a good persona online”*
If anything, one should be surprised that these practices took so long to reach campuses, or at least to be declared so openly. But just what constitutes, exactly “inappropriate” social media behavior?
What to avoid if you want into college
First of all, you better never have bad online CONTACTS. In practice, students who want to go to the university some day must:
- think carefully about what they post
- never post anything that is “bigoted toward any group, sexist or seemingly threatening”
- “follow and thoughtfully interact with college social media accounts”, rather than “casually mentioning colleges on social media”
- “demonstrate interest to colleges”, for example posting compliments to them on Twitter or Instagram
- in general work out a strategy to “sell themselves to colleges”
- last but not least…
Hypocrisy, or more proof that Zuckerberg was always wrong?
Beyond the ones above, the CEO and founder of a firm that “trains students on how to harness the power of social media” (yes, there is one such thing), suggests that:
“To get started, [students] may want to consider creating social media accounts specifically for the college admissions process rather than personal use.”
On one hand, this is great. It’s an excellent proof that the guys who made billions by preaching “context collapse” are just immature kids without clues on how real humans function. On the other hand…
Be nice, don’t hurt others, keep your mouth shut unless you do have something to say, think before acting… This is, and has always been, just extremely basic common sense. You know, stuff that everybody should learn as soon as possible in the family, and learn it because it is the right, decent, human thing to do, period. Not when one is already half adult, as a patch, further homework, to get the right mix of student debt and prestigious career.
This whole situation is really bad, and I can’t see how it would not increase stress and neuroses, in the long term. This is a textbook case of people doing the right thing, for the wrong reasons.
Note to colleges: Beware of backlash!
There even is an evergreen recommendation that, no matter as right as it is in principle, may backfire spectacularly if applied to the letter: “put yourself in the position of your grandmother. Would your grandmother be upset, angry or embarrassed if she were to read some of your postings?”
I have this picture of students sincerely answering “Of course no! It was my Grandma who taught me to keep women barefoot and pregnant, and gays or people of color out of my neighborhood!”