This is a guest blog by Presentr intern, Kathryn Salort

This summer I landed myself an internship at Presentr, a technology and training company focused on communication skills. It got me to think about my own habits and behaviors when it comes to communicating. Many times, I find myself mindlessly talking. The words that come out of my mouth are often not fully processed in my brain. When I finish speaking, an internal dialogue rambles on with an array of criticism like, “that was too mean,” or “why would you say that,” or “you sound so dumb.” I know I’m not alone with this struggle; many of my friends have similar experiences. My conclusion is that the culprit is my generation’s (generation Z) addiction to the instant gratification we get from social media and messaging apps. You can post a picture and instantly people will like and comment. Messages get sent and responses come equally as fast. Communication happens at lightning speed and, as a result, we focus much less on what we are saying or how we are saying it.

My fellow Gen Z’ers and I have grown up with a significantly different approach to communication, based around social media rather than face-to-face interactions. And, since we are the first generation to experience this, there has not been a lot of education around the impact of this style of communicating. While our parents and teachers might not love the way we connect, everyone is learning together about how our behaviors and expectations might negatively affect us when we join the workforce. The long-term effects of our style and our reliance on social media to communicate is a concept so lost on many of us. We post without thinking and forget to consider the potential consequences of the words we use or the pictures we share. It has only recently come to my attention that the things we say on social media are not private regardless of the privacy status of one’s account. Again, we are the first generation to experience “anonymous” cyberbullying, also known recently as “cancel culture”, and many fail to appreciate that nothing on the internet is ever really anonymous.

So, to my fellow Generation Z’s, when using your social media accounts or messaging apps, consider this: if your parent or guardian was to scroll through everything you have ever posted or sent, would they be happy? When I first started with social media, my mom told me, “if it is not something you would send to me, do not post it,” and this is something that has stuck with me ever since. She explained that anything posted on the internet is permanent and, even if you remove it, you cannot be certain that it is not accessible to others. In the future, when a prospective employer is looking into your history and background, it is entirely possible something you posted and wouldn’t want them to see will be discovered and could result in you not getting hired. Of course, social media is a place to express yourself, but there is an appropriate and inappropriate way of doing so. It is important to be mindful when posting content like an innocent post on Instagram could result in you not getting your dream job.

Now that I have been working with Presentr for a while, I not only recognize how quickly things come out of my mouth without clearly thinking them through, but I also consider the language I am using and am aware of the difference between how I speak to my friends and how I speak at work. It has been a big eye-opener on how we are all having to adjust the behaviors we have picked up throughout our teenage years and how difficult, in today’s social media environment, it is to be an effective communicator.