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Is Social Media Helping Or Hurting Millennials?

Is Social Media Helping Or Hurting Millennials?

It was just a regular Thursday morning when I was drinking my coffee and scrolling through my Facebook news feed when I stumbled across the story. The social media headline immediately grabbed my attention: “DRUNKEN UBER RAGE - Watch the video as a Miami doctor goes into a wild drunken rage with an Uber driver... with punches and scissors thrown!” I saw the side-by-side pictures, the knee-kick on the left side, and the picture of her sophisticated pose in her doctor’s jacket on the right side.

I clicked on the article, and read on. “UM Doctor Caught On Camera in Drunken Uber Rage,” with the sub-headline reading, “Anjali Ramkissoon is a second year neurology resident.” Before I could open the story, my eyes went back to Facebook and scanned the comments. I then braced myself as I watched the video footage myself. My heart sank.

The attorney side of me initially thought, you must remove the YouTube videos and remove all social media posts, including your own social media profiles (not to mention - did you even legally consent to being videotaped?). The career expert side of me thought, her reputation as a prominent and bright neurology resident has now been compromised by this. What will future employers think? How will she be able to move forward and gain the trust of other medical professionals?

The humanistic side of me thought, I too had many nights of debauchery in my college and post-college years and could relate to saying things in a drunken stupor that I would later regret. The difference: back then, there weren’t smartphones there to record it, and YouTube wasn’t there to disperse it and make the video go viral.

[Related: The Millennial Moment: Why Everyone is Paying Attention]

I remember sitting in my first-year law school orientation class almost 16 years ago when the dean of students candidly said, “The reputation you build from this day on will carry with you. It takes years to build a professional reputation and only seconds to destroy it.”

It was a statement that I held very close in mind and took to heart whenever I went out with friends. And, as a global career expert and attorney, I am even extra cautious about what I post today on social media, where I go, or how I conduct myself in a public forum. You see, today, more than ever, social media is compromising our privacy and very easily, our professional image. Millennials are at the forefront of this challenge - it's no longer just fear of word spreading from person to person, it's fear of social media being able to spread faster than wildfire.

One foolish mistake can cause things to spiral out of control. Our society is so quick to videotape fights detailing drunken rages and then post them to social media for the outlandish remarks that ensue and for a good chuckle. That “upload” feature has had grave consequences for many.

As the day progressed, I continued to read different posts and articles about the incident with the Uber driver. From posts that were sent to the University of Miami’s Medical School website, to their Facebook page, to even at Jackson Memorial where she did her residency work, her name has been circulated hundreds of times over and over again. One small mistake, one small drunk verbal fight, and it has become the “shot heard around the world,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say.

At the moment it was happening, a potential YouTube video documenting her brawl was likely the last thing on her mind. Unfortunately, when you are in the limelight as a rising advanced professional, you are held to a higher standard and more susceptible to harsh criticism, including downright negative turmoil. You risk losing everything - not just your job, but your reputation, and how the outside world views you.

Think before you drink and press "send" on that post. Caution yourself before you act. Today, social media can harm us just as much as it can advance us.


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