(Originally posted 2011-06-21.)
Reading Now Your Embarrassing/Job-Threatening Facebook Photos Could Haunt You For Seven Years I think they’ve missed a point or two. Points which may be incidental to the thrust of the article but nonetheless are important ones:
Who’s to say what’s embarrassing or job-threatening?
Some things are obvious: In the post they talk about weapons ownership and racism as two things you wouldn’t want on your "record". Actually, the former example illustrates my point:
While racism is an obvious "no no" weapons ownership is in a grey area. Though personally I abjure weapons ownership there are many among you who feel differently. (And by espousing my position I’m exposing it – in the very previous sentence.) 🙂 But it shouldn’t be job threatening.
To repeat the first point: "Who’s to say what’s acceptable or not, embarrassing or not, job threatening or not?
The second point is: Suppose something is job threatening. Is that all that matters? How about our ability to live whatever’s left of our lives?
The third point is: Don’t we, without even getting close to threatening our jobs and careers, leak position and emotion?
As a, perhaps, aside I’ve just spent three days on a course with friends (both old and new) on "Personal Eminence and Gravitas". (Technically it’s called "Technical Leadership Masterclass 4", for the IBMers amongst you.) One of the "take homes" from that intensive 3 days is how others perceive you. I won’t discuss what my "take home" was but going through the process has caused me to think on reputation a little more. I was pleased the word "leak" was uttered by one of the course facilitators: I’ve used it before and picked up on it in class. It encapsulates the idea that you can’t really know what you’re giving away – so you can’t totally control it. Thank goodness!
Another data point is watching youngsters squabbling on Facebook. You’re supposed to think that’ll come back and haunt you – which would be grossly unfair. It’s actually rather funny. 🙂
I like to joke that we’re all unemployable – based on our Social Networking footprint. The serious point is that there is a definite need for forbearance on Social Networking. Otherwise the genie has to be put back in the bottle and the world has to return to being a really dull place. I for one don’t want to return to that. So much so that I’m prepared to take reputational risks: And we’re back to "authentic voice" and "authentic living".
So, in short, I hope we can all be authentic in what we say and do. That’s more a hope than an expectation – as I know there are parts of the world where it’s impossible to be authentic. 🙂
And, to recap on something I alluded to above: Who’s to say what emotion and position I’m leaking to you by writing this post?