Growing Up Facebook

As social media continues to gain popularity, we find that not only does it play a role in our personal lives but it has also begun to integrate itself into our professional lives as well. We connect with potential employers through such outlets as Twitter and LinkedIn, which are often tailored to fit companies’ expectations, but when employers locate our Facebook pages, they tend to find the less professional versions of ourselves. More often than not, we are advised to keep our Facebooks clean and to avoid certain situations so that we can’t be photographed and tagged in them online. After all, employers have been known to base part of their hiring decisions on applicants’ Facebook personas, and it would be a shame if we didn’t get the job because they didn’t like what they saw.

While I agree that we should make wise decisions and be selective about what we choose to share with the world, I hardly think that one’s Facebook page can give an accurate perception of that person’s performance in the workplace. Rather, it gives viewers merely a glimpse of that person’s overall being — and a very limited one at that. For example, a 20-something college student who parties a little much on the weekends might also have a knack for accounting and might work just as hard as he plays. A girl who was photographed doing a keg stand at a party once might be a prodigy within her chosen field of study.

I am not trying to glorify partying — in fact, I’m the girl who stays in some weekends to read for fun — but I don’t think young people should be condemned for making a few impractical choices on their own time. It’s one thing if your questionable social life mixes in with your professional life and you begin to miss work because you’re constantly hung over, but if you can manage to keep both worlds separate, then why shouldn’t you be afforded that right?

These days, we are subject to more criticism – online and off – than ever before. (Tweet this!) In the past, employers did not have the same kind of access to information about their employees’ personal lives, but now many college students are scrutinized for — in essence — being young and stupid. No other generation has experienced this quite the way ours has.

I understand why employers take advantage of the social media that surrounds them, but sometimes I wonder if this is any better than judging a book by its cover. Ultimately, we need to be careful about what we display online for the world to see, but we should do this out of self respect, not merely fear.

What are your thoughts?

4 Replies to “Growing Up Facebook”

  1. I definitely agree that employers are privy to much more information on our social lives than any previous generation. In a way, it’s akin to inviting them to be a fly on the wall at lunch between classes or that Saturday night soirée, or showing them that photo album usually kept on the shelf at home. I can see both sides of it – we sort of brought it on ourselves by broadcasting so much of our lives on the internet. And really, no matter what your privacy settings, nothing on the internet is actually private. So I understand the argument that if you don’t want to be judged for what you did Friday night, you shouldn’t have put it online. Additionally, I understand that the corporate world – and really any employer – views employees as representatives of the company both in and out of the office. Therefore, they’re not sure they want someone who they perceive as less than responsible. However, I also agree with you in that I don’t think that young people should necessarily be punished for being young. It’s a real catch-22.

    Honestly, I think the underlying problem is that social media lends itself to over-sharing. Facebook statuses and tweets have us telling hundreds of “friends” and followers what we would’ve previously only disclosed to a small circle of people. Issues with future employment/hiring aside, I see the real question with online personas as this: given that everything we put online is going to stay online, do we really want pictures of ourselves partying to still be public 20 years from now? Do our 500 facebook friends (let alone the rest of the world) need to see what happened after that third beer on Saturday? Because it’s really not any different than announcing it in front of the huge Monday morning lecture hall.

    So I guess this is my long-winded way of saying I agree with you, and I really like this post. 🙂

    1. I definitely agree that no matter how we choose to spend our weekends, we should be careful with how we share that information with the rest of the world. At the same time, I feel like social media as a whole can put us at a disadvantage because it encourages us to over-share to the point of discrediting ourselves.

      Thank you so much for commenting! 🙂 I am so glad you enjoyed!

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