Military Families and Social Media
For many military families, social media plays a major part in our existence. It is a way to communicate with a large number of people, or just a few select friends, quickly and easily. However, doing so is not without pitfalls. Posting anything you want on the Internet can have negative repercussions both for you, and for your military spouse who is serving.
Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of sounding off on social networking websites and online forums. However, what you write can last for years online, or possibly forever. Many politicians have suffered because of this with unflattering emails and Facebook posts becoming fodder for the media gristmill. Even if you think your private post on Facebook will stay that way, all a friend has to do is share your post with someone else you don't know, and voila, what you've written can go viral and do irreparable damage.
For the uninitiated - "going viral" means that hundreds if not thousands of people will view what you've posted.
Don't Dishonor Your Spouse
On a personal note, I visited the Heroes at Home registry forum at Sears.com. I started reading the discussion thread and was surprised at what I saw. Numerous military spouses were angry at Sears and at each other over the promotion (missed deadlines, miscommunications, etc). In addition, the negative things that were supposedly written by military spouses were angering civilians too. The bottom line is this: don't dishonor your spouse by writing negative things about your life as a military spouse. It makes the military, your spouse, and in particular you, look bad.
The same goes for posting compromising photos and videos online: don't do it!
Your Spouse's Military Career
Have you considered that what you write could come back to haunt you, or your spouse? Is your spouse an officer? Does your spouse aspire to become an officer? Writing negative things can have an impact on whether your spouse is promoted or not. You may think that writing something snarky on a blog or forum will never be seen by someone who matters in your spouse's career, but what if it is? It is very simple to Google a person's name or pen name and find out an awful lot about them, right down to their date of birth and social security number. Even if you're a techno geek, odds are the military can find out about your online activities, which can have a negative impact on your spouse's career, especially if they have security clearance.
Military Values Apply to Spouses Too
Each branch of the military has a set of values. Ask your spouse, and they will cite them as they learned them in basic training. The following, for example, are the Army Values:
- Selfless Service
- Personal Courage
As a military spouse, you should know the values of your spouse's branch as well. While no one is expecting you to pick up arms and fight for your country (unless you're an active or reservist yourself), you should honor your spouse by following the values too. How you present yourself in public is a direct reflection on your spouse, your family, and the military as a whole.
Before You Post Online
The next time you feel compelled to vent on the Internet,
stop for a second and consider the ramifications of what you're writing. Are
you attacking someone personally? Could what you're writing be construed as a
threat? Are you revealing secrets that shouldn't be made public? If what you're
writing can't be read out loud for everyone to hear without fear of
repercussions or embarrassment, don't post it online. In addition, posting lewd photos or unflattering videos of yourself online is always a bad idea, especially if you or your spouse are in the military.
Remember, there is no
such thing as real privacy on the Internet, especially when you're using social
media sites. What you put out there will be floating around for eternity.
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