Social media is a prominent tool for people to connect with friends and family and for businesses to market their brand.
Due to social media’s prominence, many workplaces have learned to either incorporate it or fight against it.
“(Social media) makes us feel like we’re connected to people,” said Sociology Professor Andrea Hunt. “We are able to meet people who share the same ideas and opinions, and that is the appeal for many people.
“But then at the same time, we are also a society that is very voyeuristic via the rise in reality TV and social media. We get a glimpse of other people’s lives, and it is fascinating for us to see what other people’s lives are like.”
Thirty-four percent of workers who use social media use it to take a mental break from work, according to the Pew Research Center.
Hunt said people’s ability to escape reality is the reason why they use social media for a break.
“I like looking at what other people are doing,” said senior Matthew Foster. “I don’t use Facebook that often, but when I do, I look for stuff that interests me.”
Social media not only provides an escape, but it also helps people market themselves, Hunt said.
“When you’re looking for a job, employers are looking at social media to find out who you are,” she said. “We really need to work with students to teach them about responsible social media and how what we put out on social media does send a message about who we are. We must ask: ‘Is that the message that we want future employers to see?’”
Hunt said it is important for students to use the privacy settings on any social media website.
“I do not use the privacy settings on my accounts,” said sophomore Shontel Tymes. “I feel as if I have no reason to. I am professional on and off the job.”
However, despite the many uses of social media, 17 percent of employees work in a company which has a social media policy, according to the Pew Research Center.
Tymes said she works at Books-A-Million, and the company has a social media policy.
“It’s a standard policy,” she said. “When we use social media, we must use it in a positive way. We cannot post any confidential information or anything provocative. We must also respect all financial disclosure laws.”
Tymes said she agrees with this policy.
Companies have these policies to protect their reputation, said Director of the Career Center Melissa Medlin.
“When you take a job in an organization, you are an extension of that organization,” she said. “Either intentionally or not, your views and thoughts can be construed to be those of the organization.”
Tymes said it easy to follow the social media policy.
“I am a representative of the company,” she said. “I know I have to be professional, so I see no issue with following it.”
Medlin said students should be careful online.
“Students need to be conscientious of what they are posting and what people are posting about them,” she said. “There are countless examples of where people have lost jobs because of what they posted on social media.”