August 10, 2006

Brave New World

Commonsense.com has parenting tips for children and the internet. They cover "Communicating" (email, blogs, instant messaging), "Social Networking" (myspace, facebook, xango), "Downloading, and a few other topics.

I was particularly interested in what they had to say regarding blogs and social networking. They recommend that teens be careful what they post because potential employers or colleges could be looking at their profile and make decisions based on what they find there....

(pause)

I haven't quite processed how I feel about this. Not from a parenting point of view, but as an individual and citizen. I understand that the internet is a public domain. But so is a bar, a grocery store, a restaurant, a park, etc. I wouldn't expect that a potential employer would send out a spy to scrutinize my behavior in public. Just because it is easy to do an internet search on someone doesn't necessarily make it ok. As human beings, we ought to be afforded some privacy even in a public domain. In other words, people's past times outside of the work arena ought to be left alone.

Most of us have a professional persona, and our social persona. They can be very different, or not different at all, but the latter is rare. Would it be ok for a potential employer to call around to all the local bars to find out if you ever stop in for a drink? Would it be acceptable for them to snoop into all your friendships and relationships and then make judgements on your character? Would any of us feel comfortable knowing that letting our hair down after hours could result in termination or not getting the job?

Of course, there are always exceptions. If an employer found out that you not only stop in for a drink every once in a while, but that you tend to stay until closing every night, unless you are thrown out on the street first because of your obnoxious drunken behavior. Or that all your friends happen to be convicts or ex-convicts.

Still...what if these things were so, yet at work you were nothing but professional and on top of your game? Unless you're a public official, should it matter? Should it?

6 comments:

michael said...

Someone will invariably cross that line. They'll do it precisely because it was easy. Easy means ok to a lot of people.

Still, I could't argue for privacy when you're writing to an anonymous audience of readers. Your call records, that's one thing. The web sites you visit, that's one thing. The things you say to whomever might be reading -- how can you defend that as private?

famjaztique said...

Ok, I knew someone was going to call me on that. My point is though, even though it is a public domain, it is still outside of one's professional life. Unless I'm applying for a job working with children and then blogging about child pornography...I just don't see how it can be considered ok.

It's walking a tightrope over a slippery slope.

At any rate, I don't think I say anything that would get me fired anyway. I'm just sayin.

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ttractor said...

When I am hiring folks, I know that after a certain level of professional competence, what is really going to matter is their character, who they are. And since a lot of people have their game face on in interviews, it's hard to know what they are like, how they approach things, what they find as balance in their lives.

So, yes, I google/blog search job candidates. If they have put things in the public realm, I will read and evaluate them.

Conversely, I don't want my colleagues to read what I blog because it is a personal expression I find inappropriate or discomfiting, and so, I have my nom de blogs.

famjaztique said...

ttractor - so what yer sayin is that you might make judgements on someone you employ based on their tone of personal expression, and yet you don't want to be judged on that?

er...

see what I mean?

ttractor said...

I know it sounds like a double standard. I am only looking at what people put out there under their own name, things they want attached to their most social, most public persona.

I don't want what I write to be read by everyone who knows my name, the same people I wouldn't want reading my diary: my boss, my colleagues, my dentist. Anyone I consider a 3-D friend has my blog addresses, those are peope to whom I grant the more intimate knowledge.

famjaztique said...

Ok, that makes a little more sense. However, if you register for myspace, for example, under your own name but use a screen name, people can still search for you.

I guess what I'm thinking here, is that most people view their blogs, and their myspaces, and all other such things, as publicly private. Very similar to how they view going out on the town after hours. And I think that unless that after hours behavior is so grossly against the grain and mission of the company they work for, it ought to be left alone.

I also think companies should let employees and potential employees know if they have a policy of looking them up. If you have to undergo a background check to work for a company, they tell you!

Maybe in the end, that's what really bugs me about this concept.

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