Don't let your social media posts from years ago define you

Written by James on June 18, 2021

Image of facebook from 2010

There’s no denying that social media has shifted the way we express ourselves. From discussing current events, to wearing that fave outfit, to making new friends - what was once reserved for social get-togethers has now moved online. It’s sometimes hard to remember a time before platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but what’s certain is that the way we use them has evolved just as quickly as the platforms themselves.

Remember when it was the norm to upload a full album of photos after every night out? Or update your status thrice a day? You may barely - but Facebook does. While learning the nuances of social media in the early days, it wasn’t unusual to overshare and have your profile set to public. While you may no longer share boozy nights or stream-of-consciousness thoughts, it’s likely the remnants of an earlier 2000s self are still visible online.

Image of facebook browser in 2010

While there’s no need to feel ashamed of your former self (we’ve all been there!), the reality is that social media use has generally become more restrained, more curated, and more important over time. These days, social media is often used as a “pre-screen” by many employers, or as a digital front for your own business.

We’ve all heard the stories of professionals being haunted by the ghosts of Facebook-past: a photo or Tweet from a former-self is dug up and used as ammunition to ruin the reputation and respectability of a current-self. While the psychology behind the emergent “cancel culture” warrants its own separate discussion, there is no doubt that incriminating social media posts from years ago can be used as fuel for public shame.

Take the case of Ollie Robinson, for instance - the English cricketer who, upon his recent Test debut at Lord’s, had racist and sexist tweets from 2012 emerge. The tweets made the rounds on social media 9 years after they were originally posted by an 18-year-old Robinson, and were met with uproar by both the public and teammates. Robinson immediately apologised for the mistakes he made years ago, but is still suspended from the international circuit pending disciplinary investigations.

However, it’s not just those in the public eye that risk the consequences of old social media posts. Recently, 22-year-old Emily Wilder was fired three weeks into her job at the Associated Press after her pro-Palestine activism was amplified. The Stanford College Republicans surfaced these posts and claimed that it was impossible for her to fairly cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the AP. While her employer claimed she was fired for social media misconduct during her employment, Wilder believes it to be due to these years-old posts.

While the threat of being “cancelled” is higher for public figures, these cases act as stark reminders that posts from our past can be resurfaced to damage our present. Just as you are a different person than you were in 2010, the way you use social media is likely vastly different, too

To reclaim your social media presence, a service like yourself.online is an invaluable tool. By analysing your social media history, you can quickly and easily review and clean up any content that doesn’t reflect who you are today. You can look at your online footprint with fresh eyes, and take control over the way that peers, bosses, and even strangers see you.

Social media is not going anywhere, and will surely keep evolving beyond the way we use it today. While you may no longer “check-in” to every place you go, these platforms still have their advantages for both social and professional spheres. Taking control of your social media presence with yourself.online lets you feel empowered, and avoid the niggling fear that comes with today’s cancel culture.