ONLINE PRIVACY – TODAY’S OXYMORON

ONLINE PRIVACY – TODAY’S OXYMORON

crazy spring break selfiesRebecca Mallory

Let’s pretend that you are a bigwig with a large company in the human resources department. You get to hire the newbies. You have a position to fill and post it online. One week later you have 200 applicants. Forty of those have passing resumes. Some of those look awesome. How do you narrow it down from there? Social media, of course. What people say and post online gives employers a much better window into future employees’ lives than any resume. Employers are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc to delve into the personal life of an applicant like never before. We all know that a resume has slightly elevated kudos about ourselves whereas what we post on Facebook tells employers volumes about who we really are. Fair? Doesn’t matter. They’re doing it. Plus, even though some states have deemed this illegal, an employer can easily make up some other reason why they didn’t hire you if they’ve discovered through Facebook, etc that they don’t want you representing their company.

Many young people view social media as vital to their freedom of expression and that they’re free to say anything they want, whether crude, vile, mean, intimately personal, etc. And they’re right. However, the unintended consequences might come back to bite them. It’s often difficult to express the correct emotion you’re feeling when posting. Are you angry? Being sarcastic? Trying to be funny? These are hard to convey through the ethernet. You have the freedom to write anything, but you don’t have the freedom to choose how a future employer might interpret that information. For example, have you complained about past jobs, bosses, co-workers, etc? Do you post hilarious selfies of you and your friends doing crazy things and having wild parties? Those might be funny to your friends, but extremely offensive to a future boss. They want someone who can professionally represent their company; not someone potentially embarrassing to their team. Turns out you have to use judgement with social media.

Just doing a small amount of research for this blog turned up numerous examples – mostly negative – of young people using social media to broadcast what they’re doing at any given moment. For instance, March is Spring Break crazy time. A time seemingly devoid of any moral behavior. I just watched a news report where a journalist went to Panama City Beach, Florida to see what was happening during Spring Break. What she found was shocking and even dangerous. College kids doing what college kids do but this year it was different. Hard illegal drugs and guns were everywhere. Guns mixed with alcohol and hard drugs?? She reported of one girl passed out on the beach with several men “having their way with her” and she had no idea it was even happening. One of the guys posted it on Twitter. How would you feel if that was your daughter? College kids up and down the beach were taking selfies and videos, apparently attempting to “one up” each other on how stupid they could be. The reporter asked one girl, “How do your parents feel about you being here?”  “_____ my parents!” Was the girl’s response. What do you think will be the result of these kids applying for that coveted job upon graduation, and having future employers make a judgement call between two seemingly qualified applicants but one appears to be wildly out of control? Even if you knew it was stupid and you’re really, really, really sorry you did it? Unintended consequences are a bummer sometimes, huh?

A perfect example of arrogant social media posting is the story of Adam Smith, an ex- CFO with a medical company in Arizona making over $200,000 a year. He thought it would be super brave to do a YouTube video of himself as he drove through a Chick-fil-A store and berated the innocent window clerk about the “hateful and terrible company that Chick-fil-A is” because of their religious stand on gay marriage. This innocent girl responded only with grace and maturity at his vile attack. This guy not only got fired the next day, but lost his house, was forced to move his wife and four kids into a trailer, and is living on food stamps. Every time he goes into a job interview, the interviewer asks, “Oh, you’re the Chick-fil-A guy, right?” and he doesn’t get the job. His personal views and principles should be respected, but not the way he treated this innocent human being. Hard lesson to learn, huh?

I know someone who was headed for divorce. He and his wife would post anything and everything about each other and their problems on Facebook. Not only is that nobody’s business, but most people don’t want to read about your dirty laundry. It’s a downer and speaks volumes about you not being respectful and loyal of sensitive relationships. Save it for the shrink, ok? You have no idea who will read that information and use it against you someday. Would you be a loyal employee if you would stoop to posting derogatory comments about your own spouse? Is it fair for someone to judge you like that? Doesn’t matter because you chose to post it for the world to see. Not that the employer cares what you say about your mean and selfish, blah, blah, blah spouse, but because of what those posts say about your character. How will you treat future colleagues? Company authority? What will you do when the going gets tough at work? Can they trust you?

Is it fair that future employers use social media to judge you as a potential hire? Absolutely! Many feel that this isn’t fair but we have such an absence of honesty in the American culture right now, that social media seems like the only place that many people don’t try to fake who they really are.  Worse than that, perhaps, are those whose posts serve one purpose: to make someone think they’re tough and cool. There’s something small and immature about posting anonymously and being vicious to another person. How cowardly to bully someone or say something vile that you wouldn’t consider saying to their face? Yet many young people think they’re safe hiding behind a computer screen to spew their anger falsely thinking that they’re the only ones who will know the truth. How naive! You posted it for the world to see!

Here’s a personal example from just this week. My piano teacher is a musician who sings and plays the piano professionally almost six nights a week. During my lesson this week we were discussing this blog topic. Boy! Did she have an opinion? She said that just the night before, she saw posted on Facebook, a post from a “prima donna” who auditioned for a  part in a performance but felt it beneath her to do what the directors were asking her to do. In her arrogance, she posted on Facebook biting and nasty comments about the directors, the music she was asked to perform, etc. You can guess the outcome. My instructor told me that not only would this girl not get the part, but that this director would see to it that she never worked another day in this state in the performing industry! So there ya go…did her insipid post come back to bite her? Self-inflicted shot in the foot.  And she may never know why.

So here’s the bottom line. Use your God-given brains before you succumb to what has become in many instances, the cesspool in social media. There is a lot of good there, but the vile and crass seem to be taking over. Please warn your children, parents, and friends. Once you press “send” your only choice is to live with the consequences of what you posted. Step away from the keyboard America! Think before you post.

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