Forget About Grandma
“Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to hear.” This is often a comment made when coaches are interviewed in an article about sports and social media. And it is often the only bit of advice given to student-athletes in an effort to help them communicate more effectively online.
This advice, with all of its good intentions, is a bit misguided. Grandma’s opinion of your online behavior doesn’t matter much at all. Grandma knows you all too well, loves you no matter what and will most likely forgive you for any missteps. Everyone else online may not be so understanding.
The things you say and do online are more often reviewed by admissions officers at your favorite university, by the coach whose team you want to play for and by the prospective employer who will want to make sure you are an asset and not a liability.
Social media education can be so much more than just “how to craft the perfect tweet” or “here’s how to manage your facebook settings.” While everyone is more than entitled to have fun and be social, it is also wise to come to the table with a game plan. Take a pause before every post. Is it necessary? Does it serve a good purpose? Will that post help you or hurt you? What light do your words and images paint you in? Is that really YOU?
Good communication skills are teachable and can be honed to be strategic. So let’s forget about our sweet little granny and worry more about what our audience will learn from that photo, that comment, that perfectly crafted tweet. It’s not only student-athletes who live 140 characters from disaster.