This is not the first time this has happened; neither will it be the last, but according to media reports, a few weeks ago a worker was sacked for writing on her Facebook profile that her job with a marketing firm was “boring”. Kimberly Swann, 16, Essex, was asked to leave after her manager saw the comment.
The current ‘king’ of social networking, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. The media covered this event thoroughly; I have spoken about the issue on various radio stations and last week on BBC1’s Sunday morning live debate programme, The Big Questions, hosted by Nicky Campbell.
Facebook is a wonderful tool, yet it can also pose great danger and caution is needed. It is important to remember that you are making information about yourself semi-public, and all-and-sundry can log-on, register and look at your profile.
I do not for one moment suggest that Facebook and the like are scrapped. Some of my friends are hopeless when it comes to email and the only way to get their attention is to send them a Facebook message (which can be both public and private). The important thing to remember is that social networking sites should be there to complement our social lives, and not to replace them. There is no substitute for face-to-face conversation. The danger with such sites is that younger generations will become unable to hold a proper conversation, or to write legibly. (My own handwriting is far from perfect! Although that is more to do with the rise of the computer in general, rather than Facebook or MySpace.)
These sites are no place for anyone who wants to remain anonymous or enigmatic; some people even choose not to reveal their real names.
As this unfortunate girl found out, some employers (rightly or wrongly) do now check their employees’ profiles – either before they hire or after. It is important that we don’t use our Facebook pages to create a different, more glamorous version of ourselves – masking the real person. If you are true and consistent to yourself, then you probably won’t fall into any traps.
If you upload photographs of an event, do remember your friends’ egos. Decide (or ask) people what images they want online, especially if they are embarrassing. Don’t splurge out details of a private conversation you may have had in the public zones on the social networking sites. Avoid applications such as ‘Top Friends’, where you rate your friends and put them in order: you may as well line up your friends in real life and give them differing rosettes.
There is a school of thought that the more friends you have the more kudos you will gain amongst other friends: poppycock.
One positive of Facebook is that it tells you a few days before whose birthday is coming up, thus enabling you to (if they are a real friend) go and buy a present and/or card. This does not mean that for ‘real’ friends you can then write on their ‘Wall’ wishing them happy birthday. How impersonal!
Social networking sites can be a help; they can also be a hindrance. Common sense will help you steer clear of any mishaps that one day could cost you your job.
Tutor, The English Manner