You only live once.
We’ve all heard this popular, albeit annoying, phrase more times than we can probably count. This phrase-turned-mindset encourages people to live in the present moment instead of being weighed down by fear or anxiety. And, depending on the circumstances, there is some truth to this.
Maybe you want to start selling items online. Maybe you booked that flight for a last-minute trip. We could all learn to loosen up a bit and check some things off our bucket lists. But we need to be careful. As much as this mindset inspires us to have a little fun, it can also have harrowing consequences.
Say your YOLO moment is standing up for yourself online, or expressing an opinion you’ve kept to yourself and wanted to finally air to your followers. Or maybe that last-minute trip you took was to Vegas to gamble for the first time, you had one too many at the bar, and you ended up documenting your night across your social media accounts. At the time, these seem harmless, but in reality, you may have just damaged your reputation to potential dates or friends looking you up. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what you post online will follow you around forever.
When neighbors, friends, and dates search you online, they will be able to see everything. It doesn’t matter if what they see is taken out of context or if it was years ago — they’re going to form an opinion of you based off of this first impression. So many people think this won’t happen to them, but it does. Just look at these real-life examples of how not monitoring your online presence and having a negative online reputation affected the lives of these three people.
Example 1: A person loses their multi-million dollar insurance claim
Even insurance agencies are starting to monitor their clients’ social media postings to see whether or not they’re following their terms of policy. This happened to a family member who had just lost their spouse and submitted a claim to collect their life insurance policy.
Before the spouse passed, they lied about engaging in any dangerous hobbies after they applied for a significant life insurance policy. The person who submitted the claim ended up being denied because the insurance company saw the deceased posting about their heli-skiing hobby online months before they passed away.
This is, of course, an extreme example of someone’s online presence affecting their life. However, it is important to monitor what is online about you and not to lie to potential dates or neighbors who could easily look you up and find out if you’re telling the truth.
Example 2: A movie star gets a bad rep because of an imposter
Even celebrities aren’t safe from the impacts of a bad online reputation, even if they themselves had nothing to do with the actual posts. This is exactly what happened to Jonah Hill, one of the stars of Wolf of Wall Street and 21 Jump Street, when someone started impersonating him on Twitter.
The fake account sent defamatory tweets to other celebrities and even started an online feud between Jonah and actor-director Jon Favreau. Because of his status, news surrounding Jonah’s out-of-nowhere remarks grew rapidly and earned him a bad rep for a while. Jonah had to go as far as explaining what had happened on the Late Show with David Letterman in an attempt to clear up his reputation.
While we aren’t all celebrities who need to be hyper vigilant about fake accounts being created, it is important to monitor your online presence to make sure there isn’t fake information online about you that could affect your reputation.
Example 3: A person’s online reputation affects their entire family
When you damage your online reputation, you aren’t just putting yourself at risk, you put your entire family at risk. One college student bragged about getting arrested for public intoxication on Twitter and her tweets ended up going viral.
This created a snowball effect that eventually wore down her entire online reputation, taking her family’s reputation down with it. Right after her tweets went viral, her family endured intense scrutiny from the media and their own social media followers.
While these cases may be extreme it is important to protect yourself, your future, and your loved ones by being careful about what is out there about you online. If you aren’t sure how to do that yourself, there are services that can help you monitor your online reputation. At MyLife.com, we can help you see what’s out there about you online. Every MyLife member has access to their Reputation Profile that shows so many things that affect their reputation, including their Reputation Score.