If you’re not online, you might as well live in a cave. No, seriously, everyone who is anyone is online. Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, WordPress: the internet is where it’s at!

Now, whether or not the above statement is completely true, it does have some merit to it. The internet has become an increasingly vital tool for everyone from the bored college student in class to the networking business professional trying to get his company a higher SEO. The internet gives us the ability to put our voices and ideas out there for the world to see and comment on.  With the increased technology, we’re able to boost our online presence at a growing rate and benefit ourselves as well as others with information and ideas to share!

Where the internet used to be referred to as the “information highway”, I now think of it as the “information Autobahn.” With the use of devices like Tweet Deck and Google Reader , viewers are able to receive information at speeds quicker than we ever could have imagined back in the early days of AOL. Just as quickly as we receive information, we’re able to forward it on to everyone we know with just the click of a button. Pictures, videos, blogs, and links to websites are constantly flying in and out of our screens and inboxes with the help of Twitter, Facebook, Google, and various blogging sites.

BUT with great power comes great responsibility. Information found on the internet is becoming more and more influential whether it is valid or not. For example, Shirley Sherrod lost her job with the USDA based on a video of her posted on a blog. A blogger, Andrew Breitbart manipulated a video of this woman’s speech to make her appear racist. Once the video was posted and gained enough attention, the woman was forced to resign from her job. There were so many other places that her boss could have looked to find a version of her speech but because of all the recognition the blog was getting, he jumped to conclusions without doing a thorough investigation.

Things posted on the internet have much more power than we realize. Now if only people would use their powers for good and not evil. The internet gives the Average Joe the potential for high recognition. A smart blog or funny video can receive thousands of views a day. However, a false statement or negative image can also receive just as many views and be damaging for a person’s (or company’s) reputation.

As quickly as good news travels down the information autobahn, it seems like bad news travels double-time. Choose your words wisely when posting something online. You never know who might see it. Try to regularly monitor what’s being said about your company as well. If you’re able to follow up with a positive fix to a problem or negative comment almost as quickly as it’s posted, the effects could be significantly less damaging.

The Internet isn’t going anywhere. It’s constantly changing and growing, so as long as we continue to grow with it, there will be ways to benefit ourselves. A conscientious mind is necessary when posting something online. Next time you go on a rant on Twitter or your blog, think about who will read it and how that will impact their view of you or someone else.