An Open Letter to Teens: Regd Social Media

Dear Friend

We haven’t met yet IRL (in real life), but I’ve seen you online and…we need to talk.

You are growing up in a world where privacy is an old-fashioned concept. Almost everything you do is recorded, watched or monitored somehow.

We have cameras on our computers and cell phones, in stores, parks and on the highway. We check in on Facebook and Foursquare and whatever other check-in app you choose. Your phone goes everywhere you go, and the GPS on you phone always knows where you are. Invasion of privacy used to mean my brother read my diary or the teacher intercepted a note about a cute guy and read it in front of the class. Times sure have changed. Maybe you’ve been on social media since before you were born. (Did your mom or dad post those ultrasound pics on Facebook or MySpace or Flickr? I thought so.) Your whole life is there.

Yes, this is your world. It seems normal, I’m sure, because you’ve never known anything else. Maybe that’s why you don’t think twice before posting that crazy video on You Tube, or using those words (yes, the dirty ones that make your mother blush) on Twitter, and “OMG, did she really say that to him on Facebook?”

You’re in a relationship with social media and “It’s Complicated.”

Most of your parents don’t get it. (Sorry parents, it’s true.)

Well, let me tell you the hard truth that you don’t like to think about:

People are watching.

That creepy guy at the mall?
Yep, he’s online and he can read your Twitter stream.

That jerk you wish you never met?
He can Google you and get your life story in a flash.

Yes, Google indexes your Facebook feeds and your tweets and lots of other things you forget about 5 minutes after you post them.

The Internet never forgets.

I heard on the news that the FCC (people who set the rules for the Internet) have decided it’s OK for people to do social media background checks.

That means that 10 or 15 years from now when you apply for that really cool job that you’ve been dreaming about since your were, oh, the age you are right now, the people thinking about hiring you can pull up all those old message you forgot about and WOW…won’t they be surprised?

Is that what you want for your future you?

What about right now?

Would you stand up in front of a million people today and do that sexy dance or act like an idiot or talk about how you drank too much when you weren’t old enough to drink at all? Really? 1,000,000 people? What about 1,000 people? Or even 15 people? Probably not.

Well, tweet about it and you have the power to reach a lot more than 1 million people. PEOPLE. YOU. DON’T. KNOW.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. They are.Ask former Rep. Weiner. Or Gilbert Gottfried. Lots of people saw their messages, and look where it got them.

It’s not a secret.

Maybe your mom and dad don’t know you are on Twitter. You went behind their back and created that account, so no one will ever know except the 1579 friends you’ve collected on Facebook (including the ones you’ve never met). How many of those people are who they say they are? You can be anyone you want to be online, right? Do you really know your “friends”?

My point is that you need to be CAREFUL online.

I’m not that old, but the world sure has changed since I was a kid. People used to talk about being “street smart,” which meant that you knew a thing or two about life and weren’t likely to be taken advantage of or do something that could get you in trouble – and I mean real trouble, not just the kind where you get grounded for a week or have your phone taken away.

The new “street smart” is “social smarts.” There’s way more trouble online, just waiting for you if you’re careless. And you might not see it coming.

I’m not trying to scare you, but wake up.

Protect your privacy online. Be careful what you post. Think twice.

Would you want your grandma to see that? Then it probably shouldn’t be online.

It’s really hard to undo social media mistakes. Mom and Dad can’t bail you out. You can’t buy your way back from a bad reputation. Poor judgement will follow you, because the Internet never forgets and yes, people are watching.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of social media. It’s a great tool for sharing, communicating and staying in touch. But any tool, when it’s misused, can create a lot of damage.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Have fun, but be careful out there. Please.

PS: I had been wanting to write an article on this topic for long. Finally got across this. Original Article

Easy vs. Do-able vs. impossible

I stumbled upon this post from Seth Godin, the marketing pundit.

Often we consider an opportunity based on how easy it is. The problem with this analysis is that if it’s easy, it’s often not worth doing. It’s easy to start a blog, but of course, starting a blog doesn’t really deliver a lot of value. Posting 4,100 blog posts in a row, though, isn’t easy. It’s do-able, clearly do-able, and might just be worth it.

Successful organizations seek out the do-able. When Amazon went after the big bookstore chains, analysts ridiculed them for doing something insanely difficult. But it was clearly do-able. Persistence and talent and a bit of luck, sure, but do-able.

Sometimes we seek out things that are actually impossible. Building a search engine that’s just like Google but better is impossible (if your goal is to dominate the market with it). It’s fun to do impossible projects because then you don’t have to worry about what happens if you succeed… you have a safety net, because you’re dreaming the impossible dream.

Do-able, though, is within our reach. Ignore easy.

What he says here makes a lot of sense to me. I have had a blog for over an year and still 25 posts, which don’t even matter. Doesn’t really add value by any means either. Yet, I consider myself doing something that is do-able. Though, now I would aim to do something that is impossible for many. Hence, I’d have a safety net (as Seth mentions). What ever I do off the impossible, would then become an achievement.

Does Facebook Own You?

I do not enjoy writing every post relating to facebook, but this time facebook is simply getting on my nerves. Who do you think owns data on facebook? You, the community owner/page owner or facebook?

Look at this scenario:
I’m of of the admins of a community of “4000” odd students working on “A Powerful Vocabulary” concept on “facebook groups”. Amazing interactions/discussions happening all over. One fine day you login to facebook only to see a warning:

The group “Group Name” has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.

What do you think? This has happened in real today with me. Facebook had deleted the group without any intimation. Who is responsible for the loss of all the data now? Please add your thoughts in the comments.

PS: Any sort of help greatly appreciated. Thanks in Advance.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my years in the tech world, it’s that companies don’t get killed by competition. They usually find creative ways to commit suicide. – Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho

What I learnt from The Social Network ??

Here are my take aways from The Social Network, a real life story of how facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg:

  1. There is no right time to start. Anytime you start is a right time.
  2. No matter how difficult name you have, people will definitely learn to pronounce it and remember it.
  3. Neither every techy has to be business minded nor every business guy has to be techy.
  4. You can win the race being a rabbit too. Just that you are not allowed to sleep in the race.
  5. Work and life go hand in hand. You cannot keep one idle for the other.
  6. Every business idea is a successful idea. Just that, it needs to be executed rightly.
  7. You do need to have a vision for whatever you do. facebook had a vision of connecting people in a network and making the world a more open place.
  8. You just don’t do anything for free, because everything has a value and you time too has some value.
  9. If you don’t want to make money, never call what you do a business.
  10. Numbers are fun, use them as much as possible. 🙂
  11. When something strikes a chord in your head, and you feel its might work and makes sense. JUST DO IT!

Please comment your thoughts.