Vivian and I, in drag, age 16 (via facebook)
So you’re about to start your freshman year of college. Pretty soon, you’ll be assigned a roommate (or worse, have to choose one yourself in a weird eharmony-esque system that seems to be designed so that you will have as homogenous a group of acquaintances as possible). And your roommate is going to stalk you (as you will stalk her). So now is a good time to consider exactly what she will find.
Everyone does a little revision of history before college starts. I’ve spent the last two years allowing people to believe I was something that vaguely resembled cool in high school, and had I not done a little editing to my facebook info, this would have been much more difficult. Incoming freshmen often get the advice that they should “clean up” their online presence, which seems to imply that it was dirty and shameful before. That probably isn’t necessary, but you might want to update your various social media sites.
First, become a fan of That Girl Magazine on facebook. This is very important, because otherwise people won’t know that you’re cool. Then, go through your photos. When you come across one that might be unflattering, ask yourself a few questions:
- How likely is someone to see this? If it’s in the first fifty or so pictures, maybe you should consider untagging it, but if someone’s checking out what you looked like in ninth grade, they either already really like you or already really hate you.
- Do you actually look unattractive? Ask a friend. You probably don’t. You probably look normal, but you’re particularly sensitive to the way your eyes look when you smile for pictures.
- What does this photo say about you? There’s a photo on facebook of me, age sixteen, with cake all over my face. All over it. And I’m gleefully licking it. While maybe I don’t look like the sexiest cat in the litter, I don’t care because I like the fact that somewhere on the internet there’s a picture of me eating cake off my face.
Then check out your info, favorite quotes, et cetera. You should add yourself to your new school’s network, so that when you friend people, they know that you’re not a total random stranger. You might want to end your “Domestic Partnership” with your best friend from high school, because the new college folks don’t know you and might think that you are a lesbian when you are not. Or, if your friend’s name is something androgynous, they’ll think you’re in a straight relationship. Or maybe you’re in a fake relationship with your best guy friend’s little brother’s cousin. No one knows that. It’s all just misleading.
Also, try not to have eight pages of “Favorite Quotations” that make sense to no one but you. I was one of these, I swear. My facebook info read something like this:
WEATHERGODS! … I know, right? all the guys do it to me! … snagged! … CRIKEY!! … coocoo birds … are you ann? … pierced nipples!!! i <3 the rooftops!!! … betty is my hero … i’m john dillinger. I shoot up banks!!
You have to understand that people who you don’t know are going to be stalking you on facebook, and it’s generally useful if what they find makes any goddamn sense. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make your profile more PG, however. I replaced the above nonsense with a long literary quotation about the importance of getting drunk.
Make sure your parents/teachers/etc aren’t following you. If you drink and you tweet, you will do both at the same time. It’s inevitable. So you will tweet such gems as ”the muppets are fucking AWESOME! ALWAYS!!” and it is best that you don’t let people who need to find you impressive or sober follow you on twitter at all. Also, please don’t be one of those people who tweets passive aggressive things at people. It’s just annoying. You’re not in high school anymore. (Full disclosure: I did this like, yesterday. Do as I say, not as I do.)
Also, see if your school has any relevant twitter accounts to follow. At Brown, we can follow an on-campus cafe that tweets when it has fresh muffins. #21stcenturysolutions
Get the fuck off of Myspace. Unless you are a small independent rock band. Even then, you must have a better option??!
Find a few new friends. Post a “Hey what’s up google+?” status. Repeat in six months.