The Web is an interesting place to spend time. You can simply spend time surfing, shopping, or learning etc.  You can become highly visible or you can be relatively stealth. Regardless of the option you choose for any or all of the social media tools, there is a certain expectation that what you do choose to reveal publicly is true.

You can participate in numerous social networks without revealing your true name, photograph, or email to the public or to other network members. You can assume an avatar and live a fantasy existence on certain platforms, or you can comment on blogs without having to take ownership of your comments.

Alternatively, you can choose to live a public existence–from revealing the date of your birth including the year to your photograph. You can participate in or join hundreds of groups. You can write a blog and have it feed into your profile. You can permit people to see what you read, what your favorites are in videos, and what you are doing at any one moment including your mood.

Many individuals permit their emotions to drive their choices. For example, many individuals will join Facebook because their friends are on it or they perceive that it has its roots in “social” connections and not “business” connections.  Others join social networks such as LinkedIn or Xing because they perceive those networks have a business value and will permit them to identify and connect with others for business development. Some will try to maintain a presence by separate “social” network and “business” network platforms. However, they quickly learn that their business connections will find them on their “social” network platform too. Do they want their business connections to learn that they enjoy having people add to their online monster car collection that they are a member of a save the three-eyed flying turtle foundation?

New people to social media do not always understand the ramifications or longevity of their choices to be or not be visible. There are war stories of individuals who have tried to have inaccuracies removed from the Web. People who say, “I wish I had not posted that or joined that” are too late at the gate. The decision whether to have a public face must be made at the start. Decisions to join any groups—including sports, religious, political, cause, or others—should be made judiciously.

Think smart when you make your decisions to join a network, a group, a cause, etc. or respond to a blog or posting or save something in your network which is visible to others. Buzz around in your mind and get a handle on whether you will be happy with your decision in a year. Think of your actions as being ‘in perpetuity.” They are!

What is your buzz about?