By Jason Menard
About a week ago I watched a ‘friend’ commit corporate suicide by Facebook. Was it intentional on her part? Likely not. But that’s the danger of being too honest on Facebook – it’s not a private network and words can live on long past their expiration date on the Internet.
This person, a relative of an old friend, announced that she had quit her job. Actually, as the story progressed it appeared less of a quitting and more of an implosion.
The full details of the story aren’t necessary, suffice to say that in an eight-hour period she effectively libelled her management team by accusing them of on-site drug use, admitted to frequent tardiness, and came across as argumentative, aggressive, and unwilling to accept responsibility for her actions.
Instead of telling her to calm down, her friends were just fanning the flames of passion. We’ve all had moments where we rage against whatever machine is bothering us at that time. And our friends are there to commiserate and, in large part, agree with us. We say what we need to say, we vent, and we calm down. The difference is that when we talk one on one, those comments disappear into the ether. When we do it on-line, they’re floating in cyberspace in perpetuity – just waiting for someone to Google them.
The odd thing is that in all the time that I have spent with this woman – which is admittedly not a lot – she never struck me as that way. She was polite, sweet, and seemed to have a good head on her shoulders.
That may still be the case – but that’s not what the Internet says.
I took the opportunity to speak to a human relations employee about whether or not they look at Facebook as part of their hiring practices. The answer, to paraphrase, was an emphatic “Hell yes!”
And it’s not just Facebook. It’s Google, Twitter, and any other Social Media venue you can think of.
It’s enough to give you pause the next time you go to tag yourself in a drunken party pic, isn’t it?
It’s a lesson that we’re trying to teach our 16-year-old son. He frequently posts messages to his friends filled with profanity. We keep warning him and he stops for a while – then the teenage brain fizzles out and the raw speech comes forth again.
He may learn on his own. He probably won’t. After all, how often do you find out why you didn’t get a job? You just know that you weren’t selected.
In today’s digital age, you are what the Internet says you are. My aforementioned friend may not be an uncoachable, challenge-all-authority, libellous problem child. But that’s not what Facebook says. And that’s not what a prospective employer will think.
Notice that I said prospective. Because if you keep posting those funny party pics, the rude dialogue with friends, and the off-the-cuff statements, chances are they’re not going to be lining up to become a future employer.