I came across this article in my Twitstream today about how young professionals are changing their name and doing other things to camoflage their presence on Facebook and other social networking sites in order to cover their tracks from potential employers or head hunters who might find some aspects of their personalities or character less employable than might be desired.
For a while now there has been a suggestion that people should run separate Facebook accounts for their ‘private’ life and their ‘professional’ life, and make sure that all the partying, socialising, membership of bizarre societies, etc. ends up in the ‘private’ account with the privacy restrictions applied to restrict access to friends only, and ideally with a suitable disguised name. The suggestions made in the article above have included people setting up accounts under their middle names for one account, for example.
At first glance it seems to be a rather sensible idea; but recently I’ve started wondering whether the establishment of public and private personas in this way is not so much common sense as hypocrisy or even dishonesty. Let me elaborate…
Many years ago – in the days before Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, what have you, the general rule of thumb was to believe that anything you posted on the Internet would most likely come back to haunt you at some point. this is more the case today. My personal way of looking at this is to imagine anything you post on a public forum, blog, Facebook or Twitter being read out to your mother, bank manager, boss and spiritual leader on a busy afternoon in the middle of the local High Street. 🙂
So at first glance it might make sense to get all the less reputable stuff tucked away somewhere safe….
But hang on a minute – it’s still you! If your politics, religion or sexuality is such that you fear that they may put potential employers off of recruiting you, then perhaps you need to think about whether you would really want to work for such a company, and whether you would be happy there. Getting recruited in to an organisation where you have already hidden some core aspects of your personality is not the best start to a working relationship; let’s face it, it will turn up at some point in your career! And if it’s some aspect of your behaviour, then again – it’s still you. We all have occasions when we get a little worse for wear on drink, and get photographed in that state, and we all make the occasional ‘off colour’ jokes. As soon as you start hiding these things away from people who’re wanting to employ you then you’re basically selling a false personality to your recruiters – again, dishonest. And if you’re dumb enough to post up details of serious indiscretions – drugs use, minor crime, etc. – then to be honest you’re an idiot who deserves what you get.
Of course, it’s not always that easy; some employers are so ‘straight up’ that any deviation from the straight and narrow is regarded as evidence of gross moral turpitude. And you can’t always determine what photographs your friends take and display – I’ve spoken about this elsewhere on this blog – but then again, there is the old saying about ‘A man is judged by the company he keeps.’
My own advice, for what it’s worth? Don’t bother having dual Facebook accounts; just stick with the one, set up good privacy settings and be civilised with what you post to it. Anything else is hypocrisy.