University of Oregon’s newspaper, Oregon Daily Emerald, recently published a story about a study revealing that college students who post content that shows “problem drinking” behavior on Facebook are more likely to be at risk of having a drinking problem. Researchers at University of Wisconsin- Madison and University of Washington studied a year’s worth of Facebook posts by over 300 undergraduate students at their respective schools. The owners of these monitored profiles then completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test.
The study found that of those whose posts referred to drunk driving, blacking out and drinking alone, 58 percent met the clinical definition for at-risk problem drinking. The study goes on to state that, “38 percent of those students who displayed alcohol in pictures or status updates were at risk of problem drinking behaviors.”
“Well, duhh.” People who drink heavily, and often, will be more apt to post about it. Seems obvious, but it did cause me to pause for a moment and think about my own Facebook profile, as well as my peers’.
For many Facebook users, visiting someone’s profile and being bombarded with drunken status updates and full-on photo albums of them halfway in the bag pretty much puts them immediately into the “party girl/boy” category. So, being that I’m at the end of my college experience and becoming more and more career-minded (and career-frantic) I wonder how the character presented on my own Facebook profile may affect how potential employers view me.
While I tend to keep my status updates relatively free of Snooki-isms (i.e. “Going to get tanked tonight. Weeeeeeeee!”) I will admit there might possibly be photographic evidence of my sophomore-year-self knocking back some Busch Lights, and such.
Especially in the public relations field, social networking is a resource to be harnessed. In a personal context, social networking allows us to self-brand. Privacy settings increase our ability to filter what content is viewed by which people, thus further allowing us to control the image we project. So why sabotage ourselves?
Those Busch Light memories might have to be quietly taken from my profile, and saved onto a personal hard drive.