By Joao (John) Mattos

Since this is my first blog post for Spartans Helping Spartans, I should probably take a moment to introduce myself.

I’m João (John) Mattos, and I am currently pursing my Masters in Advertising at MSU. I had the pleasure of receiving my undergraduate degree from MSU as well – in 2008 I earned my BA in Social Science (with a minor in Anthropology). Originally from Brazil, I love to travel and enjoy simply learning as much as I can from the everyday experiences and the people I meet along the way. I also have a love for social media; I am continuously fascinated by the impact it has on the way we connect, meet and build relationships in this virtual-but-real world of ours.

Today we are in an existence of full-on globalization of communication. We are able to speak with anyone from (nearly) anywhere around the world at (almost) any time. Besides that, we share so much of ourselves – photos, videos and thoughts – with this global social realm. This system, while so exciting and stimulating on various levels, is also addictive and viral. How are these shared thoughts shaping how are perceived by others? What is the collective identity we leave on the web? As the shaping of this “new” global mainstream progressing, we need to proceed with more and more caution within our social networks. The way we expose ourselves really matters these days.

As a simple example, take a moment to think of someone that, upon meeting, left a bad impression. Maybe they were stuck up or a comment rubbed you the wrong way — but after a few more meetings, you realized it was a wrong-read situation, and they are truly a friendly or kind person. Your impression, based completely on a few comments or a chance meeting on a bad day, provided you with a drastically inaccurate read of that person’s genuine nature. These impressions happen very often, and outside of the web they are often relatively simply to clarify based on something as simple as a quick change in the tone of voice. It isn’t too tricky for a second or third meeting to reverse the incidental negative read of the first. So my question is: How are you being read in your social network communications? What first impression are you making with every new connection?

Beyond the initial question, I ask you to consider what your identity on the web should be. What is
your voice? What are you trying achieve? How are you branding yourself?

Social media is powerful tool, and like so many others, it can be used in both a positive and negative way. What you write and the way you write it will give people the impression of who you are. Like it or not, what you write completely shapes how you are perceived. Are you using vulgar language or terms? Are you writing inappropriate or unnecessary status updates or posts? Of course on the internet we are free to write whatever we want. People often think, “It’s my profile, I will write and post the videos and pics I choose.” The line is much more blurred than it was a few years ago; if it isn’t something you would share or state when the computer is off, you probably shouldn’t share it on your page, either.

As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a hard or fast answer on what constitutes “appropriate.” Each person is different, and maintaining that individuality is crucial, but everyone needs to do a personal evaluation. Take a moment to consider what your posts are saying about the overall impression you’re sending out (even better, ask someone their opinion on your web presence). My goal with this blog post, if nothing else, is to alert and encourage you to develop a professional and productive image for yourself in the competitive workforce of today’s society.
Finding the right balance between personal and professional content isn’t too tough, it’s only too important. When people say, over and over, that your reputation stays on the web for
a very long time (read: forever), they are telling the truth. You don’t have to be tone-neutral or PC to be appropriate (the most personable or readable sites aren’t), but concentrate enough to minimize room for too many negative impressions. Create an identity for yourself that highlights your competencies and interests. Make your presence online not only attractive, but meaningful as well. Share those stumble upon pieces of info or that awesome blog you follow or news article you found intriguing – it not only assists in connecting with others and build worthwhile relationships, but it also ensures you intrigue people that carry the same values and goals as you do.

For your enjoyment, take the time to view this Youtube video (55mins) that gives an anthropological perspective of YouTube’s impact on our identities today. It’s intriguing to see the evolution of video sharing in our culture from its origin through today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

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Joao (John) Mattos is the Communications Assistant for MSU Alumni Career Services. During his undergraduate experience at MSU, he built MSU’s Facebook page up to around 40,000 people before he negotiated a deal to give it over to MSU. He is now working on his second year of a graduate degree in Advertising, and is also a student employee for MSU’s neighborhood initiative. Additionally, he works for a social media firm near Detroit and as a contract employee doing social media for a Brazilian soccer team and a restaurant in Brazil (where he was born and raised.) You can find him tweeting at https://twitter.com/#!/jmattos_ and also helping out on @helpingSpartans.

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