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Saturday, 14 December 2013

How to protect your online reputation

Protect it by knowing the 3 rules of thumb.

(An expression, by the way, that comes from an old English custom in which a man was not allowed to hit a woman with anything stronger than a thumb).
Here are the 3 rules we can pretty much say they apply to the online reputation of each of us: 
1. IT'S NOT WHO WE ARE, IT'S OUR IMAGE
Just as the car we dream of, our online image is simply how we wish to be perceived. It's our facade.
That's not hypocritical at all. Our survival techniques always indicate the same: our lives do not neatly walk over the line of who we are, but how we are perceived.
You learn it very quickly: your post that talks of being depressed or ill, will trigger one quick 'ow, how bad'. And that's it. Your positive post though will trigger dozens of likes and comments. People feel bad or bored or insecure enough as it is, and crave for the energy of others. 
So online we all have to just use one side of ourselves. That side we deem safe to show. 
2. WE'VE GOT NOTHING TO HIDE
You are not worried at all about how you are perceived? You don't care about 'privacy settings' or just how many times social networks change them, so you basically give up on changing them? You think that everything you say or show can be seen by everyone? 
Because you've "got nothing to hide"?
The only danger here is that this information can still be used by everyone. Your liking of this type of clothing, that movie, such country - not to mention how we all throw open the door very wide for future facial recognition - will be used in marketing. 
Right now we only experience the first babysteps in that matter. The days when you set foot in a shopping mall and all the shops already know your name, face, likings and behaviour is not far away.
Do you like that prospect? 
You set foot in a store and your name pops up on a screen, together with ads personalized to your taste, the music and lighting adapt to your preference, and the sales persons already know what you were interested in the weeks before? 
We've got nothing to hide - except ourselves.

3. WE ARE OUR ONLINE BEHAVIOUR 

This might sound contradictory to point 1, and it isn't. For as much we try to only project an image, we definitely reveal our complete being.
It just takes an amateur psychologist, or a robot collecting information and cross-referencing data, to quickly detect the subliminal message of your online profile.  
You can be very quickly defined as: a person who needs attention, displays egocentrism, shows signs of irregular behaviour or sociopathy or bullying, is insecure, does not perform well in stress situations, does not finish a task up to the end, is quickly bored, chats during work hours, talks about work, can or cannot be trusted with confidential material, looses himself in details, is assessed as a floating voter,...
It used to take hours of psychological assistance and assessment tests to detect these patterns : the very big social networks already know this about you, and a good psychologist can detect it from studying our online timelines.
Sure: nothing to be done about it. You can't change who you are (at least not without a tremendous amount of energy) nor avoid it to trickle through. Posting as little as possible might be the only protection. Which, anyway, is needed for any addiction!! 
HEY... 

You already wrote about this, Ben!
Why do you repeat this message over and over again?
Here is why:

·         Because it can't be said enough.
We keep saying "yes, we have to take more care online", and then never act on it.
Online moguls will for sure not warn you of the dangers, for these are to their advantage. The information you provide them with, is golden.
·         Because repeating is marketing rule Nr 1.Our heads are saturated with information. One commercial is worthless: it is seen and forgotten. It needs to be repeated, 5 times an evening, 50 times a week, to have any effect.

Your marketing animal.

Ben

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