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Columbo

If you’re a high school graduate going off to college, to work or to travel the world please commit to one social media practice above all else: Be yourself.

If you’re a high school graduate going off to college, to work or to travel the world please commit to one social media practice above all else: Be yourself.

So often these days you’re advised against expressing yourself online for fear of what it might mean for your future, but have you thought about the future you might have if you don’t express yourself? Without self-expression, you may not find the future that lines up with your character or the person you have the potential to be.

Leave yourself open to new experiences online. Read something, share your opinion and lose an argument or two to develop humility and a better understanding of how to engage in civil discourse. You’ll find that by expressing yourself and engaging with others, you’ll develop character which will be more valuable down the road.

Share the important moments of your life on Facebook so that your family can see it. Share the dumb stuff on Snapchat so your friends can see it and, so long as someone doesn’t screenshot it, it’ll disappear. Share the cool stuff on Instagram and tweet your thoughts.

Social media is a reflection of who we are. It’s much more than a product meant to serve our needs and serve us to advertisers. It’s the rational way of existing in a hyper-connected digital world.

When someone tells you not to post something they’re asking you to trade out being yourself for being safe. Being safe, and suppressing yourself, is itself a dangerous practice.

You’re not always going to be correct, and that’s ok. That’s part of growing, and it’s as true in the classroom or on the job as it is online.

The key to telling your story, as a student entering the next stages of life, is to show progress. Let people see where you’ve been. Talk with people in the now. Show your audience where you’re going.

Your social media activity may be more valuable than you think and it doesn’t have to be disingenuous.

Don’t lie about the person that you are online or filter your content to reflect a character that you aren’t. You shouldn’t set the wrong expectations for those who may more regularly interact with you online or who may develop their first impressions of you through social media.

Simply put, your self-expression sets expectations, and the expectations you set can help determine the opportunities you want to and have the chance to pursue in life.

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Nathan Colombo is a Carbondale native, stand-up comedian, and marketing professional. His small business, Brand Advocacy Group, Inc, provides digital media services for other small, local businesses in and around Southern Illinois.

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