Networking Socially

Spurred by several recent events, I now need to reel in yet another bad habit of mine: social networks. Used correctly, they are a great source of job opportunities, community event notifications and a perfect way to keep in touch with friends you otherwise wouldn’t. But, when you think you’ve got it under control and can say whatever you think -BAM!- Suddenly you are screwed. It varies in what way, but it can inevitably happen.

Take my old xanga, for example. On the side column, you can see I followed a grand total of 14 people. From that, I assumed these were the only 14 people who read my blog (probably justifiably so) and thus tailored the content to fit that. Likewise, when I got a LiveJournal I did the same. And my FaceBook, tailored to the friends I knew had it, those college peers I wanted to friend.

(as an aside, I made it a rule not to add anyone I didn’t know to my Facebook, a rule to which I still adhere today)

Fast forward to my graduated self. I tended to ignore in college the SVSU Newspaper articles telling the dangers of your MySpace/Facebook profile and the damning material therein. Potential employers could find that photo of you with the beer bong and decide you are not the candidate they are looking for. I wasn’t intimidated by these threats for several reasons:

  • I didn’t really party that hard
  • No one really took a lot of pictures of me
  • If they found any, nothing would be damning enough to deter their pursuit of me

This all changed when Facebook opened to the general public. Now, not only were my professors joining, but my little sisters and other members of my family. Now it was like leaving your diary open to the page detailing the steamy drunken sex you had last week and leaving the door to your room open. C’mon!

True to my word, though, I didn’t take a lot down. Like I said, I’m generally low-key. However, some questionable material was untagged and my photo albums were pared down to the most recent and least ambiguous of the bunch. Still a few slip through the cracks, but generally I am clean.

At least I thought so. Crumbs, the job I currently work as a barista, brings out my immaturity as much as my friends can. This becomes dangerous on slow nights when I decide it will be funny to make all my status updates quotes from the tasteless rapper Eminem. Several updates later, I laugh at the irony. Of course I do not enjoy his music; no one really does. That’s what makes it funny. At least to me. I wasn’t even deterred when my little sister commented on it (she said simply “eminem ew” – I laughed hardest at this). Then a former co-worker commented on one. Thankfully, it was one that wasn’t quite so tasteless (“hotter than a set of twin babies in a Mercedes Benz with the windows up when the temp goes up to the mid eighties”), but it nonetheless caught my attention and drained the colour from my face and the blood from my balls.

This was a man I respected very much and only spoke with as much on every occasion. I was very professional in all my dealings with him in the past. Now, I had betrayed to him my true self and felt very ashamed and foolish. Things that were funny in college with your friends are not necessarily with those you consider peers professionally. None of this is anything I want my extended family to see me as! From that moment, I vowed to clean up my Facebook etiquette. It might be difficult, but, as an article in the Saginaw News reminded me today, we must remember that the internet is vast. The people that can view your information is growing rapidly. Everyone is aware of the various means of “self-promotion” and we really do need to keep every aspect of our internet personae squeaky clean; as though any site you belong to can be paired with your résumé and sent to employers.

Another instance where I may have gotten myself into trouble recently would be twitter. I only began using in November when Brianna made me download it onto the old iPhone. My Tweets, like most Facebook users’, started with the word “is”. Thankfully, it took me less than 10 Tweets to realize this wasn’t necessary. Even though it may be elitist, David Pogue recently set the record straight.

That is neither here nor there, however. My point is here: I began using Twitter much like I saw all social networks; as inherently social. You’re posting to the internet, so there’s no need to make it private. If you want it private, use a physical journal or some other archaic communication tool (e-mail?). There is no sense in only sharing your thoughts with your friends. Well, I felt this way until about thirty minutes ago. I found out my boss began following me on Twitter.

Along with slow nights at Crumbs posting random Eminim, I bitch about my job. I’ve had it five years, I work with people I see as lazy and incompetent and I am pessimistic about almost every aspect of it by now. Problem is, I don’t always have someone I can bitch to; sometimes the people that are annoying me are working with me. I don’t want to waste my or my friends’ text messages bitching, so I bitch to Twitter. If they want to ignore me, they have that right, but at least I got it off my chest.

I usually make it a point not to mix my social life with my work life since that can not only become dangerous, I often want to see friends I didn’t spend the last 7 hours working with. I can be a total ass with my friends and maintain a professional appearance at work.

When my boss got on Twitter however, all that went to shit. Now, I have to constantly rethink before I Tweet. I can’t say nearly as much as I normally would. I don’t want my boss to know who I dislike at work (though I’ve probably told him to his face, I feel violated this way). I don’t want him to know what I did last night with my friends. If I did, I would tell him at work, not online.

Which, I guess, was the entire point of the Choi article. Since you never know who is looking at any given time, (my parents could get a Facebook any minute; my dad already has a MySpace – part of the reason I don’t anymore) you should always pretend like the last person you’d want to look at your blog is.

So enjoy, dad. This article is for you. And the rest of y’all. You [don’t] know who you are.

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Hello; my name is Nicolaus E. Witchger. I am a graphic designer from Saginaw, MI best known for wearing bow ties and drinking single-malt scotch, dark beer, and espresso.

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