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What Does Your Digital Footprint Say about You? Why and how you should create a positive social media legacy

By Malini Agarwal

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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Ever since the idea of "writing' was conceived, humans have recorded their thoughts and occurrences in daily lives in diaries or journals. These records reveal what our ancestors cared and thought about, and hand down wisdom from one generation to the next. Social media has moved into the space once occupied by diaries, although how we use it isn't quite the same anymore.

A diary entry is often a thoughtful process. It's like a mirror that reflects your emotions, and the events that take place in your life. A tweet or Facebook status update, however, is very much in the moment—the fancy restaurant you just ate at or the fashion item you just bought. Worse are the trolling moments so many engage in; making fun of that oddly dressed person on the train, or attacking friends because they support a different political party.

Social media offers a distorted mirror image of how people live because it often shows not what we really think or feel, but how we want others to see us. There's pressure to come up with a shocking comment, a witty line, or a funny image, that all your friends will "like' and retweet to make it viral.

Why do we have this dire need to be noticed, liked, validated and talked about? Are we willing to do anything for it? Sadly, yes.

Social media has given us a super power, but one which we may have been misusing. The digital world enables us to have a real time dialogue, a conversation with people across the globe. It allows us to be close to distanced family and friends. It lets us put our thoughts out there, freely, for the world to see and maybe learn a thing or two from. But, we use it to gossip, stalk, and troll. We use it as a vent for our emotional distress. We use it to argue and fight with people over trivial things.

So now ask yourself this, what if every text, social post, email, and uploaded picture was forever—a digital mark that would shape who you become and how you're remembered? Would you still use social media the way you do now? Possibly not.

It's important that we understand the long-term impact of social media, reminding ourselves not to post that photo, those rude remarks, or those embarrassing personal details, because what you put on the Internet stays there. This means, whether you like it or not, you are creating a legacy that will live on to show people a version of you that you may not really be.

So take a few minutes today and scroll down through your Facebook timeline. Imagine yourself as your descendants, 100 years from now, reading your posts. What will they take away about who you were and what was important to you? What will they learn from you?

Give them a chance to know you for the good you possess rather than the bad.

Here are a few things you can start doing right now to leave a lasting positive social media legacy:

  • Do amazing things online like creating educational groups, travel blogs or social service campaigns and make a difference
  • Turbo boost your own social media with happiness
  • Bring your virtual avataar as close to your real avataar
  • Give someone a compliment, appreciate the good stuff
  • Use a filter to filter out negativity
  • De-clutter your social media, de-clutter your mind
  • Take charge of your social media

Social media is the communication tool that defines our age. If we change the way we use it, being more thoughtful and reflective, the ripples might just make a positive change in the world for years to come.

The new currency of the Internet is positivity—How much are you worth?

Malini Agarwal

Founder and Creative Director of MissMalini Entertainment

Malini Agarwal, aka MissMalini, is the founder and creative director of MissMalini Entertainment, a news media network that creates highly engaging, multi-platform content geared towards India's Internet generation.

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