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Reconsidering the Facebook Friend Fiasco – Working Words

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Reconsidering the Facebook Friend Fiasco

By now you may have seen the latest in social-media-meets-work-life disaster stories, this time the woman who dissed the boss she forgot she friended.

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Now, it’s hard to disagree with those who point out that this is yet another example of why you should always watch what you say on Facebook, via Twitter, on your blog; there have been well-publicized incidents of job-destroying posts via all of these social media. And even back in the olden days before social media, prudence would dictate that even putting anything of this sort into writing, was risky (especially email).

And yet … is the point of these “social” platforms to share our social selves openly with friends? Or is it just PR for our careers?

Right now I count among my friends many clients and former clients — a diverse group with diverse tastes and boundaries, so I am always cautious about what I post. But I wonder how cautious some of them are. They’re not posting screaming rants about their bosses, to be sure. But, I have seen posts about after-hours behavior, strong political views, and relationship troubles from some friends that I think might offend some of the others. It makes me wonder what people are assuming about the people they friend on FB.

I wonder if more categorization would be beneficial. Don’t most people have layers of friendship — lifelong friends and intimate relationships with near transparency; work colleagues, to whom we’re bonded (maybe only for the moment) by current tasks; admired ex-bosses whom we hope will always remember us as youthful overachievers; former youngsters we once mentored, whom we hope still think highly of us; siblings (we may trust them with our lives, but still not want to tell them everything); etc. We wouldn’t discuss the same things with these groups in person … yet with social media, you’re seemingly left to choose either to reveal so much it’s not prudent or too little to be genuine. Or, you can choose to just not to make all your friends your “friends” — by rejecting your boss or client’s friend request. (Talk about ‘not prudent!’)

Isn’t some categorization in order? Instead of just FB friending, could we “colleague” people we know mainly through work life? “Relation” people we’re connected to by blood? “Client” people whose business we’re grateful to have — and anxious to retain?

Just thinking out loud here ….


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