Unabashed Social Media Sharing - Career Poison?

Huffington Post
One of the most nascent issues with social media is that it's moving far too quickly for society at large to actually keep up with it. Imagine, for a moment, that in every office, staff room and headquarters across the planet, a meeting was suddenly called to announce the arrival of social media, and to figure out a way of dealing with it in the work place. It's a stretch, I know, but I'd hazard a guess that the word 'discretion' would come up early, and often.

We've all seen those screenshots of some delightful moron loudly complaining about their boss on Facebook, only for said boss to chime in, first reminding them to watch what they say online, and then, in some cases, firing them on the spot. Those people are a tiny, hollow-headed minority, though. For the rest of us, the far bigger problem is the way we broadcast the more depraved aspects of our social lives, and how that might look to current or potential employers.

A recent survey taken by Thomas Mansfield revealed that, of 2000 British users surveyed, 51.1% would consider posted photos of themselves drunk, and 34.2% already have. Now, I must admit, I'm in that percentile, but everyone drinks, and whilst some employers might not look too kindly on it, even the most reserved of us have reached for that 3rd glass of wine at least once, but what about the ones reaching for the dusty CD case?

You would think that, logically, people using drugs, regardless of their views on them, would recognise that broadcasting it online could have adverse consequences. Well, the survey revealed that 24.2% of the people surveyed would consider posting photos of themselves either on or actually using recreational drugs, while 13.8% already had. Following on from this, 1-in-10 people said that they didn't think social media could get them into trouble at work.

Now, there are two very distinct sides to this argument. Firstly, the internet isn't written in pencil, everyone has an online fingerprint and social media cuts the deepest grooves, so if you ever show yourself in a light that might make people think twice about you on there, it might be one of the first things people see when they start to investigate you. On the flip side, social media is still a matter of personal business, and when you start talking about job prospects, it shouldn't really factor into a future or current employer's assessment of you.

There's a third side to the argument though - excessive drinking and drug use are unfairly stigmatised, for sure, but posting about them on social media is effectively tantamount to bragging, and it's nothing to brag about, especially when it has the potential to bite you in the keister. It's nice to share those images of you at a club night or music festival with everyone, but is it so much trouble to just uncheck the one of you sat in the 'O' of the Glastonbury sign with a spliff in your mouth? You can always just show it to people privately if you really think it's too cool to keep to yourself (protip - it isn't).

In professions with a bigger public spotlight, like sports, social media training is becoming commonplace, just to make sure that valuable staffers don't land themselves in hot water with an ill-conceived remark, or a Manziel moment. The thing you need to remember is that social media is a choice, not a necessity, as difficult as that can be to accept sometimes. It's just a case of think before you post, and understand when it's better to restrict things to a legimitately private forum. Is it fair? Not at all, but it's a small price to pay for the incredible connectivity social media offers. Just be a grownup, basically.

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