Facing Reality

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I created a Facebook page because I realized it was the most annoying thing I could do to my kids. Kids don’t want their parents on a social network they consider their own, and grow especially uncomfortable when their classmates send friend requests to their parents.

Since I’m too old for spring break and too tired to attend many all-night parties, I wasn’t worried about any embarrassing photos showing up on the site. So I was somewhat surprised to realize, with or without business questionable images, that Facebook could create potentially sticky issues.

In a post on TechRepublic this week, Toni Bowers discusses how one job applicant received a Facebook friend request from recruiter who had just interviewed him for a position at a worldwide Internet-related company. “To be honest,” the applicant explained, “my face is in no book, I have no space, I’m neither linked in, nor linked out. I just don’t have any interest in social networking. But this person will be making a decision as to whether or not my resume should be forwarded to a hiring manager. Help!!”

Bowers suggests hiring managers step aside from Facebook.

But what do you do when they don’t–and how do you reject invitations from other casual acquaintances that you stop short of calling friends? What do you do if the teenage child of one of your most important clients–who met you briefly at a company event you attended for business reasons–sends you a friend request? Do you insult the teen, and, potentially, her parent, by saying “No” or friend an underage contact who lists drinking and beer pong as two of her top activities?

Contrary to what common sense dictates, some parents are proud of their teens’ Facebook pages–even when they include questionable photos and posts. Some even write approving comments on photos that make strangers uncomfortable. So quick…make a decision. Do you accept the friend request from the teen you hardly know or not?

I don’t comment on my kids’ photos. In fact, I’ve never asked any of them to be my friends. The reality that I might ask, sometime, any time, is enough to make them think twice about what they put on their pages. I can indirectly influence the tone of their sites, potentially preventing them from adding something that anyone with a few years of work experience recognizes as inappropriate.

But they can’t control what other people post, accurately or not, and tag with their names. Neither can I. There’s just no way to police the comments of every friend or distant relative who somehow links to your Facebook page.

Should I be guilty by default when one of these people write something contrary to my own views? And should all this be open to the scrutiny of possible employers or clients?

Are we more likely to get the job or appointment we want if we have dozens of so-called friends on a social network, including some with questionable views, as we are if avoid having any social network presence at all?

Technology has made communication faster and more efficient, but it hasn’t made it more meaningful or accurate. It’s just made it more confusing.

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1 Comment

Filed under friends, random, Technology, work

One response to “Facing Reality

  1. I love your strategy for dealing with the kids–not having requested them as friends but “at any moment you could”–that is priceless. Great thinking.

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