Steps Towards Leaving a Positive Digital Footprint

A number of years ago, I read a comment that really stuck with me – an acquaintance of mine posted a picture of their grandchild to their social media account.  It was a silly and cute picture, but perhaps one that should be saved as a memory for family, and not shared online.  The comment was very polite and respectful, just reminding her friend that when we post pictures of ourselves and others, we are creating our “digital footprints”, and in this case, it was for a child who has no say in what was posted and might not appreciate that particular photo as much as their grandma.  That simple comment was a good reminder to me, to be thoughtful in what I choose to share, especially if what I am sharing has not been ok’d by anyone else involved, first.  If you use the internet, then you are leaving a digital footprint. This is not necessarily a negative, because your footprint includes all of the positive content that you chose to share, blog about and like, but knowledge can help keep you aware, and sometimes safe, in this regard too. 

What makes up your digital footprint?

It is the “trail of data you leave when using the internet. It includes websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit online.” There are a number of different ways that we leave our footprints, but the 2 that appear to be most common are:

  • Actively, which is when you knowingly participate online by posting to social media, providing your email address to receive information (eg. newsletters), filling out online forms and surveys, and by clicking yes to install cookies. 
  • Passively, which is when you are not aware of the information being obtained, such as, by companies that install cookies without your consent and use your Facebook likes and shares to obtain general and sometimes personal information about you. 

And now that we know this, we have the option to try to maintain some control over what we leave behind and learn about the different ways we can protect ourselves, and others in some cases.

Can you ever delete your digital footprint, and would you want to?

According to Kaspersky, we cannot completely delete our digital footprints, but we can be more mindful of how we manage it.  We can help ourselves by taking a few easy steps:

  1. Check the privacy settings on your devices and social media accounts to ensure they are set to the standard of privacy you are most comfortable with.
  2. Accept software updates as you receive them.
  3. Creating passwords that would be difficult to figure out.

And these are just 3 of the many suggestions available!

There are also many ways that you can check what your footprint currently looks like, two of which are to search your name in different search engines to see what pops up, and by not sharing too much personal information in general, particularly when using public wi-fi and social media. Your individual footprint can help you to build a positive online presence (contributing to your personal brand!), the advertising received to your social media accounts can be more geared towards your interests, and it is easier to trace the people looking to commit fraud if we leave a trail.  What does your digital footprint currently look like, and are you interested in learning how to maintain it?   

Facebook: What digital footprints are you leaving behind? Find out how to create a good path going forward. Check out my blog:

Twitter: How can your digital footprint benefit you? Learn more here:

Businesses, start your engines!

The quantity of information that we are exposed to every single day is astounding: we now in 2021 take in five times more information than we did in 1986. With our attention spans eroded to approximately eight seconds in our digital landscape, we have learned that to consume is to skim.” (Ashrof M. 2021). So, what does that mean for businesses competing for attention from their target audience, and trying to expand their customer base?  It means that they have approximately 8 seconds to grab the attention of their targets, before their audience moves on.  According to a study done by Microsoft, our attention spans have reduced from 12 seconds in 2000, to 8 seconds, today.  That can be a lot of pressure for businesses.  And according to Brandwatch, “For in-stream video ads (ads placed before or during other video content), Facebook themselves recommend a length of 5-15 seconds.” This sounds like a short amount of time, but for those who watch TV, the average TV commercial is 30 seconds, and the commercial break usually consists of 2 or 3 back-to-back (giving you just enough time to get a snack from the kitchen, if you run).  My point is, whether a 30 second commercial or a 15 second video ad, unless the commercial really catches someone’s attention, the viewers will probably only watch the full ad if it is a product/service they are interested in anyway. At least that is my personal experience.

We cannot blame social media entirely though. Other contributors to creating a society with shortened attention spans might be anxiety, workplace and personal multi-tasking, many people working electronically full time now (in result of the pandemic) and that we can obtain most information almost instantly at any time – “Google, what’s the temperature in Iceland right now?”. 

Adding to the race for time, according to Marketing Insider Group…the amount of time that brands have to capture attention in an advertisement is incredibly small. The average ad on Facebook is viewed for only 2.5 seconds by desktop users. On mobile, that number drops to a mere 1.7 seconds.”  If this is accurate, then businesses need to choose the most suitable and efficient social media platforms to capture their audience’s attention immediately, so they can at least try to increase that time to the 8 seconds mentioned above. Some platforms are logical choices based on the type of business you are marketing.  For example, if you are an interior designer, you would probably want to choose platforms set up to draw people in visually with pictures of your work, leading to a website, so Instagram and Pinterest would probably be 2 of your main platforms.  However, if your business is an investment company, you might still use visuals, but it would probably be your title that draws people in, and easy access to the information included below it. So, LinkedIn and Facebook would probably be 2 of your main platforms, one being a little more formal and the other promoting to a broader group of generations and small businesses.   Can you suggest other, less known platforms that could be used by these types of businesses, yet be just as effective for their target audiences?

From Fear to Joy

In the summer of 2021, during the pandemic, a small group of friends and I decided that we would rent a cottage and get away for a week.  For the second summer in a row travel was restricted, gatherings were limited to 10 people maximum, and we were expected to remain socially distanced while together.  Everyone was tired, stressed, and ready for some type of normalcy, even if just for a brief amount of time.  One of the invitees was unable to attend, and somewhat kiddingly said that they were experiencing a bit of “FOMO”.  I had never heard of FOMO before, so I Googled it, and according to Psychology Today, FOMO is a “fear of missing out” that can sometimes generate a form of anxiety in people.   Looking back to when I was much younger and social media did not exist and/or, depending on the decade, was not so commonplace, we probably felt FOMO too, but it wasn’t labelled as anything but having a bit of jealousy.  I think because we didn’t have access to such a large amount of information about what our family and friends were doing on a regular basis, this type of fear was felt, but perhaps not to the extent that it does today.  For most people during that time period (pre to early social media), our worlds were much smaller and aside from what we saw on TV, we were only aware of what was happening around us in-person and usually only for those in proximity to our immediate circles. Or was that just my experience as someone who lived in a small village in the country?

As social media became more commonly used, connecting with others became more immediate and pieces of our personal lives were shared with others, a general fear of missing out naturally began to increase.  We were now witnessing the best versions of our friends, acquaintances and stranger’s lives, daily. People were sharing their travel adventures, new purchases and fun social lives, which could lead to some social media users to feeling that their life was not all that it should be when in comparison to others.

Not only has this type of fear had an effect on individuals and families emotionally, a second unfortunate by-product of FOMO can sometimes be over-sharing personal information. This can impact your financial security and sometimes your home and physical safety. Microsoft provides examples and information about the dangers of oversharing, and some steps that you can take to make sure you are sharing safely, while still being able to let others know your good news online.  

As I was writing this blog I thought “what a depressing subject”.  So, I started to look for anything that would
brighten this social media cloud.  It was then I came across the acronym “JOMO”.  Another piece by Psychology Today introduces JOMO as the “joy of missing out”. Which is (basically) feeling good within yourself so the need to compare yourself with those sharing online does not generate negative feelings.  With access to so much information and details about the lives of others, it can be natural to want for more and feel that somehow you are lacking.  However, by taking some of the steps suggested by Kristen Fuller, author of “JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out“, you can choose to be content in your current life, and OK with your abundance as an individual.