Would you think twice about sharing a mindless “I’m so bored” post on social media if you knew that research shows that people who do so experience higher rates of heart attacks and strokes? What’s worse, research that ties social media use to emotional stability/instability is making its way into the hands of people that you probably don’t want to be privy to such information: recruiters, hiring managers, and employers. Here’s what you need to know about what your social media sharing is saying about you.
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James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas, invented a clever little tool called AnalyzeWords, which uses your Twitter handle to determine your emotional stability based on what you’ve shared on the micro-blogging site. In 1993, Pennebaker’s created the infamous “Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (L.I.W.C.), which looks at the words we use, and in what frequency and context, and uses this information to gauge our psychological states and various aspects of our personality,” as reported in The New Yorker. This concept and its respective intelligence has paved the path for other more current studies that evaluate the correlation between the content a person shares online and his/her emotional stability.
Oftentimes, people share pointless information throughout the day for the simple fact that they’re bored, angry, annoyed, or tired. However, what they’re not realizing is that the negative snippets they’re sharing throughout the day — however trivial they may or may not be — are actually more telling than they know.
“People who aren’t emotionally stable post more frequently in order to regulate their emotions and receive social support,” says human behavior expert Eric Barker in Time Magazine.
Research suggests that the more neurotic you are, the more frequently you post. Social media serves as an on-call pseudo-therapist that emotionally needy people go to when the going gets tough, or whenever any inkling of an emotion pops up in their day.
Now consider that you’re applying for a job and the recruiter/employer runs your Twitter handle through AnalyzeWords and it paints a dismal picture. Without your knowing, the recruiter has already passed on your application and is on to the next candidate. What’s important to note is that your social media use, private or not, is traceable one way or another. If you think for a second that this need not apply to you, then you’re definitely in for a rude awakening when you’re up for a dream job or promotion and your past comes back to haunt you.
Don’t let the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” jeopardize your career potential, especially when it’s a matter of simply not posting trivial information that, as science suggests, makes you look unstable. Next time you feel the urge to spill the beans about how [insert negative emotion] you are online, refrain from doing so and, instead, turn that negative into a positive and share that ray of sunshine with the world.
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