This post is sponsored by Domain.ME
“Your trip to the Caribbean looked SO fabulous,” commented a friend on the set of photos I shared on my personal Facebook page during a January work trip to the Caribbean when the temperatures at home in Washington, D.C. were downright frigid. Traveling to St. Lucia and Grenada during one of the coldest winters on record looked like a lovely warm weather beach getaway to my friends after seeing these photos.
If you were to see the three photos above you would have probably thought the same thing but what friends glossed over was the reality of work travel that I also interspersed with the ones that made my trip seem like a vacation. Taken as I arrived to my gate in an empty airport just before 5 am, this photo kicked off my travel adventures. Be sure to read the text in the photos!
My trip to the Caribbean involved conducting two teacher trainings in two different countries that required six flights in three days. With so many flights, it’s not surprising that we almost didn’t make it to Grenada.
It also came a mere 24 hours after an exhausting few days in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) where I walked millions of square feet of expo space with my camera guy to film segments for Cox Communications. I loved my time working in Las Vegas with Cox, but it was exactly that. Being on hunt for new innovative products, scoping out trends in the consumer electronics space, and conducting interviews left, I shuffled wearily by the slot machines and tables en route to the elevators that would transport me to my room where I could finally sit down for the night. There were no cocktail waitresses bringing me free drinks or upgrading me to a luxury high roller suite. This was my reality.
I like to think that I’m authentic online and show my true self through my blog and social media platforms but what I’ve come to realize, is that even people see what they want to see. They grab hold of the things that they want to believe are the real me and remember a small piece of my reality even when I’ve shared the bigger picture.
The bigger story behind the gorgeous beach photos and the glorious sunset is my work in the Caribbean is part of a World Health Organization initiative to change attitudes and behaviors surrounding underage drinking in key countries through the use of Responsibility.org’s Ask, Listen, Learn education program materials. In the past couple years, I’ve conducted webinars for teachers in faraway places like Cameroon and visited three Caribbean countries to work with the Ministries of Education to train teachers and administrators.
During these sessions I’ve heard stories about having to turn away students from entering the school grounds in the morning because they’re trying to bring alcohol on campus or heard concern about what can be done for an 8 year old who they suspect, is already an alcoholic. It’s important work but not the kind of work that people want to focus on when you’re posting beach and pool photos!
When I tell people the back story about my travels, they look at me and tell me that they prefer the life that they see on Facebook. They ignore the real in favor of the fantasy that provides the eye candy escape from reality. I can’t help that friends or followers on my social channels choose to focus on what appeals to them but I can set a good example for my daughter, Emily, and her friends as they manage their own digital reputations.
Today’s tweens and teens need to know the importance of being real, being true to the words they share online, and being accountable for the things they share. Who we are in real life may differ vastly from how we portray ourselves online and that’s a big problem. As parents, it’s our job to have conversations with our kids about authenticity, knowing their limits, and managing their digital reputations. Talking to kids about their digital reputations differs according to the age of your child. For tips on talking to your kids, read Important Conversations to Have with Kids About Managing Their Digital Reputations for age appropriate tips and conversations to have at every age and stage.
If you’re looking for a post for your tween written by a tween, visit Hey Tweens! Here’s What My Tween Wants You to Know About Instagram, written by Emily.
It’s never too early to talk to our kids about the importance of sharing the “real you” online and modeling this through your own use of social media. When creating an online identity that genuinely represents you, look to experts like Domain.ME whose is uniquely positioned to provide you with the space you need to build your personal brand and create a captivating online persona that’s a direct reflection of you. .ME domains are great for personal websites, such as blogs, online portfolios, or aliases for social network profiles.
This post was inspired by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal URLs that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.