Have We Become Enslaved By Social Media?
Yom Kippur begins in less than 24 hours. “Normally” I write a post about how I feel unsettled and share thoughts around that but that’s not really where I am going with this one.
That is not to say I have no feelings regarding the day or that I am not feeling unsettled because I am and I do. But this time the unsettled feeling has me focusing on social media because tonight I censored myself on social media.
Tonight I didn’t make some changes to my Facebook page that I wanted to and would have because I was concerned about the potential impact those things could have and that bothers me.
The Lines Are Blurring
A dear friend of mine posted a picture of us from our fraternity days. We’re twenty-one and clearly drunk. I remember the night and I remember the party which is saying quite a bit because I drank enough for all of you who are reading this now.
Even though the picture is twenty-three years old I made a point to see that it wasn’t connected to me because I didn’t want it to come up in searches by prospective employers and that irritates me.
It irritates me because the guy in that picture doesn’t exist in anything but memory. There are a lot of stories about that 21 year-old and a lot of stories about the boy that once was and that man followed but because of social media I have become cautious about what could happen if some things came out.
Maybe it is paranoia. Maybe I am being silly but I have listened to conversations about hiring decisions and read more than a few articles in which social media profiles come into play and I am concerned because the lines are blurring.
Whenever we make hiring decisions we make judgment calls about whether the prospective employee will fill the needs of the position. We think about whether they’ll fit in and how they can help the company meet its objectives.
I understand why employers are trying to paint as complete a picture of candidates as they can but I am not convinced that Facebook profiles provide the kind of information that is truly valuable.
Some of them are sanitized and sterile and it is impossible to gather any sort of detail at all and some of them are populated by photos that don’t provide dates or any sort of indicators that you can use to determine when they were taken.
But I wanted that picture buried because I didn’t want someone to stumble upon it and think it represents me today. I don’t want to be concerned about whether they would look at the boyish face and wonder if how it could be tied into all the experience on my resume.
We live during a time of instant gratification and snap decisions. Do something foolish online and there is an excellent chance someone will jump on it.
Make a mistake and there is an excellent chance someone will try to make you pay for it because we are not allowed to offend anyone any more.
I can provide more than a few examples, but one jumps out at me now. A man I once worked with me was in a minor automobile accident.
No one was hurt and the damage to his car was minimal but he insisted on suing the other driver because he wanted to “make some easy money and their insurance company will pay.”
It never occurred to him how his actions could impact others because he just saw a big company that could “afford to pay him to go away.”
And that my friends is what occupying my mind after midnight on this Thursday night. As I wander through cyberspace safely ensconced in my electronic bubble I wonder sort of snap judgments I am making about people and what is being made about me.
It is one of those moments where I think about how nice it would be to have enough cash to just not care what others think because I worked because I wanted to and not because I have to.
But that is not the case so I think about these things and wonder if my concern is valid or not.