Social Networking: Who ARE You Online?

This post is actually inspired by this article in the Wall Street Journal where the author questions the idea of posting personal images to Facebook and whether that affects your professional persona. I don’t think that there’s an issue with that, to be honest. Be who you are online as you would be offline, is what I say. BUT, that brings up a good point – Who ARE you online?

Have you ever asked yourself that? I mean, seriously. Are you the same person online as you are off? If you’re answer is no, in my humble opinion, I think you may have a problem.

There’s a great song that Brad Paisley recorded in 2007 that comes to mind – “Online”.

Let me go back to that article for a minute. The author also writes –

Future employer X calls colleague Y to ask about me; colleague Y checks Facebook to get the latest….and instead of a link to a story I’m proud of, or even a video I find funny, he finds a photo of me and my baby boy making snuggly faces.”

In the 7 or so years that I’ve pretty much poured my heart out, shared my life online, I’ve never even thought of that – that a real friend of mine might check out my private online profiles on behalf of a future employer of mine because that employer asked about me and that friend hadn’t kept up with me in a while or whatever and as such, would resort to heading to my private online profile to see what’s new…and THEN report back.

Really? Who would do that? I find that disturbing on a few levels (and it might actually convince me to weed out my friends on Facebook again. It might.).

That’s not to say ANYTHING I put online is embarrassing for me or anything of the sort. I have repeated that statement more than once. It’s the mere fact that someone would take the time to share the news of my life from my online profile with his/her employer who would then potentially hire me as well. I can see it now –

“Oh. Well, looks like Lisa’s cat recently passed away and she’s very upset but she’s also posting images of her new picture on her office wall and she received tickets to a concert from a friend too.”

Repeat after me – WHAT?

There are two main points to this post (though I’m sure you might pick up a couple of others).

One, be the same person online as you are offline. If you’re a jerk, be a jerk. If you’re as sweet as pie, be as sweet as pie. Although I guarantee you the “sweets” will always be favored over the jerks that will only be frowned upon and I further guarantee if you’re looking for a job and you’re a jerk online, I’m not entirely sure your job search and subsequent interview process will go well. Can you see me cringing as I write this?

Two, if you’re keeping some online profiles private for whatever reason, even though anything we put online is really not considered “private”, you might want to at least think twice about who you accept as “friends” (on Facebook) or connections (on LinkedIn). If at any point you think your “friend” would follow through on a request from a potential employer, you might want to delete them (that’s the severe route) or at the very least via a private message (or public one if you are so bold) kindly request that they not share anything about you that you share with them online.

So…who ARE you online? Do I have you thinking about this? Dear God (literally), I hope so because I see some pretty frightening stuff from connections, followers, and friends, especially the ones I actually do know. Think of it this way: you want people to connect with you online and meet you offline and say,

“WOW. She’s just as awesome offline as she is on!”

Now, that’s a compliment! Rather than, “Yuck. I had no idea he was such a jerk offline” or “She’s an opinionated craphead online, but offline she appears to be wonderful. Which personality do I believe?”

Yeah, I got you thinking.

Who ARE you online?

Image courtesy of my fun-loving friend, Ashley Sue Allen from Girl’s Night in March. Thanks, A*Sue! 🙂

2 Responses to “Social Networking: Who ARE You Online?”
  1. love this post. and i totally agree- i am 100% the same person online that i am offline. i make no apologies for who i am – obviously i filter what i put online – but what i put online i would absolutely do in real life. i wouldn’t change a thing. you have to be true to yourself and be willing to own up to anything you put out there!

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