It's time to stop stalking your ex-boyfriends, those kids who went to your junior high, and your mother's third cousin (who did that thing once that we do not speak of now). Put aside the exploits of your former coworkers, your current coworkers, and your best friend's big brother. Ignore, for a moment, what your friend's friend just pinned or what your neighbor's dog just blogged. It's time, finally, that you start spying on yourself.
Entrenching yourself in social media comes with certain caveats and it's high time you started paying attention to them. Sure, you snickered when you read that article about the girl who got fired because she lied about being sick and was caught on her Facebook page, but it's time to admit that you felt a trickle of panic too. Maybe you spent a good ten minutes searching your own name in Google to see what came up, to take a look at what your friends or employers or parents might see when they did the same.
That little moment of introspection was a good instinct. In fact, you should make a habit of running that search and running it often; consider it your monthly, or even weekly, credit check. But instead of checking for recent purchases, you're checking on you're reputation.
Here's a handy checklist, in case you're in need of one. The overall goal with this exercise is to accurately gauge how you might be perceived online by those you respect and whom you wish to respect you in return:
Twitter profile: Check that first page of tweets, before you have to scroll. Was there a politically charged comment that you're now regretting? A catty remark that makes you cringe a bit? Put yourself in the position of of your idols and imagine that they are contemplating following you; do they have reason to or would they run for the hills?
Facebook profile: Step away from the News Feed and go directly to your profile. Do not pass go. Do not play FarmVille. On the right side of your page, click the Settings wheel to find the View As button. Here, you can View As the public or as a friend. You'll be surprised what the public can see with the new Timeline feature!
LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube channel: Go through these profiles too. Why not? LinkedIn can be especially slippery and before you realize it, your employment information is far out of date. Have a favorited video on YouTube that is no longer so favored? Get rid of it. Trim, trim, trim.
Run searches for your full name and nicknames in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines. I like to do a five-page run, but go as deep as you'd like. Find a link to your name that puts you in a bad light? Follow the same protocol as a credit bureau and do everything in your power to get it stricken from the record. Your reputation will thank you.