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Facebook Follies – the great big experiment of living out loud

Posted by Joanne on December 1, 2011 Comments (2)

I watched The Doc Zone a few weeks ago. The topic was “Facebook Follies.” It highlighted the good and not so good about social media, specifically Facebook which appeared on the scene in 2004. I had coffee with a colleague and we talked about recruiting and how different it is for Gen Y, who are growing up with social media with so much of their young lives forever captured in pictures, videos, and comments on-line, compared to how we grew up.  (A teen who started using FB in 2004 is just about ready to start their career.)  

No young person thinks about actions of the moment and how that might impact the future. This is true of most young people, from any generation. They don’t think about the future when they are enjoying the present. But the difference today is that something they did in their youth can come back to haunt them now or later when they want to be a lawyer, politician, charity worker, teacher, police officer, and even a spouse or parent. Most young people are not thinking about how those old FB pictures and Twitter comments might impact future opportunities. Unfortunately, they live on forever on-line.

Sure we oldies (Boomers and GenX) who are doing most of the hiring at this point in time, did things when we were younger too. But we didn’t have mobile phones and social media making it easy for youthful escapades to be immortalized forever on Facebook. If we were lucky, like I was, we had our mother telling us to “Learn from your mistake, hold your head up high, and carry on.” So we have the moment etched in our mind somewhere, not like today when it is out there for the whole world to see, especially if it’s in the hands of “friends” who think it’s something the whole world should see. (No such thing as privacy or control on the Internet). Of course, moms will still say “Learn from your mistake ….” but it sure must be a lot harder to “hold your head up high, and carry on” with the whole world watching.

It seems unfair that those doing the hiring have the knack of forgetting. Somehow we don’t remember some of the silly events of our own youth. We were allowed to make our mistakes in our small circle of friends and family. We don’t have the “social memory” of on-line media to remind us of our youthful mistakes. (Not that mistakes are reserved for the young – i.e. Mr. Weiner). In a recent poll 4 in 10 students worry that FB might hurt their chances in the job market. Will the percentage increase as more and more students venture out for their first jobs and/or career advancements?  I wonder when GenY get to positions where they will be making hiring decisions will they be more understanding?

I enjoy reading David Hall’s blogs on social media and there are two that stand out. One on reputation management, “92% of employers say they will “creep” potential employees’ profiles: Like, manage your reputation already, OMG! :P ” (including a great video by Lee LeFever of Common Craft Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English) and the other “Are you bad at technology well then you are bad at life, there I said it” I especially enjoyed the comments on the latter blog. Jeremy McQuigge commented that looking at technology in our lives from a generational standpoint “… is interesting because Generation Y/Z have grown-up with access to some of the most advanced pieces of technology of our society, yet struggle to use it in productive / meaningful ways. Technology without instruction is nothing more than say… a fancy paperweight.”

“A fancy paperweight” to which I might add that can come back to bean you in the head and knock you out of the running for an opportunity in the future that just might be your heart’s desire. I have Gen Y children; I have had the pleasure of teaching Gen Y students, and I coach and mentor some very focussed and dedicated Gen Y individuals starting out in their HR careers.  They are going to do just fine. The generation growing up and in their formative years when FB first arrived on the scene are like guinea pigs at the start of the great big social experiment of living out loud on-line. And anyone doing the hiring today should remember that.

Best regards, Joanne Royce   
Royce & Associates
A Human Resources and Training Solutions Company
Creating Happy, Healthy, and Productive Workplaces

Related Blogs:  More mom’s flocking to Facebook – A lesson for business


  1. Great article Joanne!

    Comment by Jeremy McQuigge — January 17, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Jeremy.

    Comment by Joanne — January 19, 2012 @ 8:21 am

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