The Social Networking Divide – Pick a Side!

page0_blog_entry613_1As social media solidifies its presence in our lives – and in some cases, takes over – a growing faction of society is dissenting.

Their concern is valid – Facebook and other sites like it make public too much personal information.

But how much is too much, and isn’t that relative?

On this video from CNN, college professor Mark McSherry suggests that something as innocent as showing a visible tattoo may be enough to turn people off. And by people, I mean potential employers, etc. – the ones who matter in the context of this “To Facebook or Not to Facebook” conversation.

While I respect the opinions of others – after all, it’s their choice to adopt social networking into the lives – it seems sort of primitive to avoid social networking out of fear of what others might think of you, the perception they may receive. From my POV, this debate is more an issue of how much self-control does an individual have to make smart choices when using the sites, and how much should this person care what others think about them based on their profiles? Aren’t profiles an extension of one’s real self. And isn’t is safe to expect that anyone who would be offended by one’s profile, will be equally offended by the real person?

For instance, I have several tattoos – well hidden, meaningful, and nicely done. If a potential employer discovered I had tattoos via my Facebook page – and they are posted there – and subsequently decided I wasn’t fit for a job, why would I want to work for that employer? I wouldn’t. My personal life – though many parts of it are public now – has no bearing on my professional ability to perform in the workplace. The same goes for other aspects: sexuality, my choice of partner, what I do on the weekends, etc. I don’t want to hide who I am for fear that someone so close-minded might not hire me. In fact, I’d rather he or she didn’t hire, so that I wouldn’t be subjected to such a person.

There’s another facet to this multi-sided debate I’d like to touch on as well. What gives people the right to judge someone based on their social networking pages? Outside of being outright offensive – posting nudity, racially charged innuendos, things that are generally deemed unacceptable by an educated public – why do others care how one lives his or her online life, and is it a moral issue to deny to someone employment or gainful benefits based on content that one individual deems inappropriate?

Frankly, I have more esteem for people who put it all out there – who have nothing to hide – than I do for those who try to brush their dirty little secrets under the rug.

But I may be different than most people, so I ask: When it came down to it, who would you want to work, live or hang out with – someone who actively and unapologetically gives you an honest glimpse into their life via social networking, or someone whose past is impenetrable and protected by an avoidance of all things Internet?

The latter seems a tad shady in today’s world, doesn’t it? Just sayin’.


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