In this age of social media galore, it can be hard to know what to share and what to keep private, especially as it relates to our military lives. I think most of us have this weird notion that whatever we post online stays ours, but in reality, the moment we share something on Facebook, our blogs, or any other form of social media, we lose control over how our content will be shared.
And you only have to take a walk through your nearest commissary or browse one of the military-themed websites on the internet in order to realize there is almost always someone out there complaining about military life or talking badly about someone in their military community. Heck, there are even specific pages and groups on Facebook dedicated to slamming and shaming other milso’s!! And don’t even get me started on the comments section of every single military-spouse-geared post I’ve ever read on sites like militaryspouse.com.
So today, I’m talking about 5 questions we can ask ourselves before posting online that will, hopefully, safeguard us from becoming the next viral online meme.
Note: I realize that not all spouses are female and all service members male; I deeply respect all the dynamics that are present in our military community. For simplification, I am using the terms that apply to my military marriage, however I believe these will benefit every relationship no matter the gender or military affiliation.
1) Would I be proud if my spouse read this?
This might sound old-fashioned to some but I care about what Zach thinks of what I write and how I act. I never want him to feel like I resent his job & the work he genuinely loves doing. As a married couple, I’d like to think that we are each other’s biggest supporters in both our jobs & dreams and I never want to betray his trust. This is the first question I ask myself & if I have the least bit of doubt about sharing something, I check with him first.
[ctt title=”As a married couple, I\’d like to think that we are each other\’s biggest supporters in both our jobs & dreams and I never want to betray his trust.” tweet=”As a married couple, I’d like to think that we are each other’s biggest supporters in both our jobs & dreams and I never want to betray his trust.” coverup=”nraw4″]
2) Could this potentially hurt my service member’s career?
When I was a super new milspouse, I had a first hand example of what NOT to do if Zach wanted to further his career. It was the Sunday of a 4-day weekend and all the men were called in (at a seriously ungodly hour of the morning) because someone had gotten in trouble the night before. It was annoying and disruptive and nobody had a great attitude as all the wives huddled around waiting for their husbands to be released. One woman was especially annoyed–she marched straight up to the LT’s office and proceeded to
swear chew out the company commander.
Ladies, I’m not sure I have to tell you, but this is not a good way to react to a situation. Neither is complaining about your husband’s command on Facebook or pretty much any other form of social media. One–it reflects badly on you. “That” spouse is not the reputation you want to have. Two–it can reflect badly on your spouse. Remember that lovely spouse I was talking about earlier? Her husband not only got a good talking-to but also an Article 15 (the military equivalent of a write-up in a civilian job).
There are proper channels for frustration and none of them involve swearing out your spouse’s superiors either in person or on social media.
3) Is this something that would be better off venting to a close friend or family member?
I get it. I really do. You’re frustrated, you’re disappointed, you’re angry. I truly believe you have every right to be upset and a little venting is just good for the soul. However you have to choose to vent to the right medium–be sure you have a friend or family member you trust to spill all your troubles on. It will probably give you a new perspective or the validation you need. If you do feel the need to put pen to paper (or fingers to computer keys) to vent your frustration, by all means, do it. Just don’t press the publish button just yet.
Wait a day/a few hours for your ire to cool and never publish anything to the interwebs when you’re angry. The world is actually a lot smaller than we think it is. The internet connects all of us and you never really know where your tweet might end up (online forums use screenshots all the time to prove their points).
4) Am I adding fodder to the stereotype?
I think as milsos we all know there’s a stereotype about us out there. It’s not pretty and I’m sad to say it’s not entirely based on fiction. Are you willing to become the next viral meme (if you think it can’t happen, think again) or have hundreds of people weigh in on your life?
Now that being said, not all viral posts come from people posting things they shouldn’t–even the most innocent things can be twisted to fit agendas. I’m not advocating that everyone pull a Ron Swanson and try to erase their internet footprint because that’s just plain silly.
You can however take simple steps to protect yourself—watermark your photos, mark your social media as private, and use common sense when posting photos or posts. And remember, sometimes things truly are best left unsaid…..and un-Instagrammed.
5) If this were brought up at my next job interview, how would a potential employer view me?
Am I behaving professionally? If a current or future employer brings this up in an interview, will he be impressed at my communications skills or my intellect (aka use spellcheck, people–come on, you know you’ve laughed scrolling through those posts on Buzzfeed) or will she be questioning my life choices and wondering if I’m really the right person for the job?
Most employers will look you up on social media (not to mention you might be friends with your coworkers on Facebook) and they definitely will if you include something like your blog or social media management in your resume. And, needless to say, they probably won’t be too impressed by your colorful language when addressing that company who doesn’t give a military discount. #truestory
I realize that not everyone might agree with me about using safeguards before posting about their military lives. I know a lot of wives who see their online world as a place to vent and receive support from other spouses–which is amazing–but I do think that it can go too far.
[ctt title=”Your little corner of the internet, whether it be on social media or on a space like a blog, is not and should not be your personal diary of grievances.” tweet=”Your little corner of the internet, whether it be on social media or on a space like a blog, is not and should not be your personal diary of grievances.” coverup=”FNoUS”]
We can all agree that the stereotypes and drama that come with being a military spouse aren’t the highlights of our lives. But we all have the power to change how others view us and that change can start with something as simple as five questions.