If you don’t show up, they’ll make you up. I don’t have any control over your perception of me, but I have total control over what I put out there for you to receive (and perceive) to begin with.” – Miley Cyrus

I can NOT even BELIEVE that I actually just quoted Miley Cyrus, but, hey, the girl makes an excellent point to ponder! Who do you allege yourself to be on-line? Do your actions reflect that? What do you think you are saying about yourself (versus what you legitimately say about yourself) online? These are just some of the questions we should be asking ourselves while we are actively engaged in our “internet endeavors.”

So, let’s chat about this, shall we? What, then, exactly, is “Social Engineering” and, further, why should you even care about it to begin with?

Here are some definitions (c/o Wikipedia) to consider:

A) “Social Engineering: (political science), influencing society on a large scale.”
B) “Social Engineering: (security), obtaining confidential information by manipulating and/or deceiving people.”
C) “Social Engineering: (social skills), influencing perception and increasing social status by changing your self-image and consciously using body language and manipulative techniques [to your own “ends,” or “vices”].”

There seems to be something inherently negatively-connotated within the context of each of these three, varying definitions. So, let us first rid our terminology of such negativity and get to the core of the matter. Let us, therefore, submit that “manipulation” is nothing more than the changing (or the altering) of something. Let us also submit that “influence” can be either positive or negative (depending on who is doing the influencing and the very nature of his/her agenda).

There. Now that we have established that much, let us piece it all together in a meaningful, yet, also effective, manner. Let us presume now, if you will, that Social Engineering is nothing more than an individual, utilizing his/her skills and abilities to successfully compose and present him/herself to the world at large and to thrive as a direct result of said actions.

At this point in our conversation, I would like to tell you a short story, which illuminates the points that have already been presented:

Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a Facebooker (yes, I would be that very Facebooker in question lol). This Facebooker took great pride in the fact that she had the ability to not only draw traffic (and even caused some serious accidents lol) towards her wall/page but also had the ability to cause some “trouble” in the form of heated debates and controversy, as well.

I genuinely believed that I was a popular Facebooker due to my own level of personal excellence (and awesomeness). I was obviously fully self-delusional… That is, of course, until (my bff) pulled the wool off of my eyes and caused me to take another look at my self-concept and how it either was or was not, supported via my Facebooking activities. In fact, now that I think about it, this woman became one of my very best friends for life due to the fact that she had the audacity to call me out on some rather negative Facebooking behavior. She explained to me that although she perceived me to be “calm, cool, and collected,” NONE of that could possibly “come through” based upon the militant, aggressive, and masculine manner in which I had been conducting myself on Facebook. I was totally taken aback by the mere fact that this woman, who hardly even knew me, was so readily able (and, also, so readily loving/caring) enough to even bother calling my attention to my own personal flaws. After all, I was more than quite adept at calling out the poor behavior of others. It was certainly time for me to have a dose of my own “medicine.” Had my friend kept her observations to herself, I would not have been able to have any insight into the rather negative way in which I was subconsciously choosing to present myself to the world. I see now exactly how careless I had become when it came to being my own social engineer. I was operating heavy machinery without so much as a hard hat for basic protection!

The Moral: Move with purpose and thoughtfulness in all your dealings, not just with respect to your social networking, but in all aspects of your own life.