Trimble: Exercise caution — and discretion — when discussing sex on Twitter

By Leah Trimble

In the past five years, social media has grown to account for a significant portion of college… In the past five years, social media has grown to account for a significant portion of college students’ online browsing. It’s rare to meet someone in their teens or 20s who doesn’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook page, and it’s considered abnormal not to participate in these sites.

When Facebook became the “it” social media service for students everywhere, professors and counselors warned them that company recruiters could discover embarrassing information on their profiles. But it wasn’t until I started interning at a local public relations firm that I realized that it’s equally important to follow the same rules on Twitter, especially when it comes to your latest sexual antics.

With over 100 million Twitter users in the United States alone and roughly 175 million tweets per day, you can almost guarantee that someone is monitoring what you’re writing. And just like with Facebook, it can give you a bad reputation.

It’s obvious to most of you that you shouldn’t tweet about day drinking when you call off work or outright bad mouth someone that’s connected to one of your followers, but it’s surprising how many people still share the dirtiest facts about themselves on the site. Here’s what you need to remember:

1. There really is such a thing as too much information.

I typically follow the rule: Don’t tweet anything about your sex life that you wouldn’t want your grandparents to read. Even though we’re members of a culture that enjoys thinking in public, we have to remember that our sex life is private. Recently, I saw a girl tweet that she hoped her mom didn’t smell the sex on her when she came home. First of all, who wants to know that? Second, this doesn’t make you cool or attractive, it just makes you look easy, regardless of what your experience actually entails. What you text your friends doesn’t necessarily qualify as Twitter material.

2. There’s always room for misinterpretation.

Like texts and other forms of communication, anything and everything can be taken the wrong way. What you think is funny can actually seem really demeaning when interpreted in a different cultural context. Something as trivial as dirty song lyrics, for instance, can be considered trashy without adding simple quotation marks.

The same applies to your Twitter name. I’ve seen accounts with names like @HER_JUiCEBOXWET. I’m sorry, but that’s inappropriate. The same applies to her biography, which includes things like “#TeamMILF” and “#TeamSQUIRTER.” We’ve all been told that what gets posted on the Internet never gets erased. What would your kids say if they read this, let alone a future employer? It’s not only disgusting, but also offensive to a lot of people.

3. Choose the right account settings.

If you’re trying to garner a following with your “jokes” or whatever you want to call them, take advice from people like @ProSexTips, an amateur comedian who remains completely anonymous. He says some of the raunchiest things I’ve ever read, but they’re all in good fun, and it’s not a personal account. @NYC_Blonde does the same thing, except her tweets focus on women. Twitter permits all sorts of crazy material, but you should be careful how you want to present it.

If your name absolutely has to be involved, at least make your settings private, which means you have to accept your followers. By only allowing your friends to view your profile, you can prevent professionals from seeing dirty material. You can also check the box that informs users that the media you post is considered sensitive. It’s not 100 percent foolproof, but it might delay the damage or at least prevent a portion of potential coworkers and family members from seeing the things you say.

It’s okay to have fun with your sex life, but posting about it isn’t always a good idea. There’s a fine line that we have to walk when it comes to social media. Even if our lives change, the things we say online will always be documented, easy to find and able to ruin reputations in an instant. Tweet away my friends: Just don’t turn your thoughts into nasty trending topics.

Contact Leah at [email protected]

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