There has been a great deal of talk regarding information that is shared over Facebook. This is a rising problem, and especially affects my generation. Those of us who were raised with a mouse in our hand, the XY’s or the “lost” generation they call us, remember the days when you had to have a college email address in order to get a Facebook account, unlike today, where millions of people have Facebook accounts from my mother and father to every manager I have ever had. Unlike most of the older folks on Facebook, my generation can attest firsthand as to how easy it is to share too much of things that shouldn’t be online, all to a website that has made it very clear they own what we post. This over sharing problem is so big, it’s an epidemic. They have gone as far as creating and marketing phone applications, and even computer programs that require you to take a basic sobriety test in order to post anything. Some even go as far as not allowing you to post during certain hours. All in the name of keeping your name clean.
Social networking sites have always been problem. I know for a fact that before Facebook became popular, there was MySpace, and before that I remember using a website called Greatest Journal where my friends and I would post far too much. There were countless entries about mindless things such as wondering what would wear to prom, to quotes from Macbeth, or whatever we might have been reading in our Advanced Placement English class. (I mention my AP English class, intentionally here because I wanted to mention how my AP English teacher my junior year was working on a thesis project about how social networking sites like Greatest Journal and MySpace then, now Facebook, made it easier to come out as being gay – definitely think it does). The simple fact of the matter is, my generation likes to talk, about ourselves and often we post far too much personal information online.
But it’s not the first time for many of us.
As employers are looking more online, using Google as a sword rather than a cape, what we post online might easily come back to bite us in the ass. And as the fact might be, my ass has more than enough shit posted out there about me, that there is quite a bit of room for some Jaw’s like chomping.
I am not alone. My generation has learned that hard way that much of what we post online is out there for good. One bad post could loose your job. One bad drunken picture and you loose your job as a teacher. One bad post and you end up in the mental institution.
For me, I realized long ago that every column I ever wrote for Arizona State University’s student newspaper called the State Press is out there, online, waiting for someone to find and use against me. The fact I’m gay is open for everyone to know. I have sex. Sometimes I smoke cigarettes. I’ve done drugs. I’ve drank to intoxication. I have been put in a mental institution. All facts. And all easy to find from a basic Google search under my name. Basically, I am unable to hid the wealth of personal information that is just a click away. And that’s just how it’s going to be, I can’t delete what the State Press has out there about me, and considering the first column I ever wrote for them was titled “Men with boobs, unite and be proud,” I would think no matter what I do, pieces to who I am will forever be out there.
A few weeks ago, my friend Matt had posted something on Facebook. I responded to it, and I used some very graphic language. He deleted it, and posted “the previous comment by Ray Ceo Jr. was deleted but basically said…” blah, blah, blah. He went on to interpret what I said, lost part of the meaning and changed the conversation completely. Ironically, the original post was about the freedom of press and censorship in general.
Since I can’t hide what I post online, I don’t even try. I did once when I was running for office, but it was a loosing battle, and after seeing that a column I can never delete online, but I myself never posted, would be used against me in the nastiest, most anti-gay, angry, dog-killing smear campaign anyone west of the Mississippi has ever seen, I decided it just wasn’t worth trying to hide myself. Instead, I do something even smarter. I overload the internet with information about myself. If you’ve every heard of searching optimization, consider my decision to overload the internet something of the same breed.
Truth of matter though is that even if I didn’t have various columns posted online about how I kissed a girl and liked it, and even if a Google search under my name didn’t bring up a whole blog dedicated to my anti-fans (I kid you not, there was once a whole blog titled “I HATE RAY CEO” – by far one of my most favorite blogs I have ever read, I probably was a majority of the blogs readership), even if my name was more common and I could live more anonymously online, and in this world, I wouldn’t do it.
I wouldn’t do it because frankly if anyone is hiring me they should know who I am. I post online. I have a bizarre sense of humor. I have a life outside of my job. I have friends. But at the end of the day, I am a professional, have ethics as a worker and won’t bring my personal life into the work place unless I am asked to (and I have been in the past).
Facebook is not who I am at work. My blog is not who I am at work. No social media network is going to truly provide a professional, realistic view of who any person is. It just can’t.
If you’re an employer and want to know how professional and how ethical I am when it comes to work, then ask for references and step away from Google. If you want to know who I am as a person, go online, get to know me face-to-face, I like coffee and am single. I am a hard worker when my shit is together, and can provide excellent references. And if you don’t want to ask me, because you read a Facebook status that made you question who I am, feel free to look up my old employers online, you can find much of their contact information on Facebook anyway, and believe me, we’re friends!
“Did I mention I fit into jeans smaller in waste than when I was 10 but couldn’t get cuz it made my bulge too pronounced? … yeah, today was fucking awesome.”
by Ray Ceo Jr. at July 13 at 11:34pm, Facebook update