Friday, September 19, 2008

When Worlds Collide

I am concerned that I have become George Costanza.

It is not so much my appearance, although my receding hairline and thinning chrome sure is disconcerting. (Hey Propecia, thanks for nothing!) Rather, it’s my network of Facebook friends that has my worlds colliding.

Let’s start from the beginning. I joined Facebook about a year ago when Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) created a fan page for staffers and alumni of the agency. It’s been a productive way to maintain a connection with former employees and to demonstrate to potential hires the importance we place on social media.

Facebook for me was a business application, comparable to my participation on LinkedIn, Gooruze, Sphinn, The Customer Collective and Brandweek’s At the Roundtable.

Then, a couple of high school buddies I have remained close with friended me which brought my profile to the attention of their contacts. Next up were requests from high school classmates I haven’t seen in years, including two former girlfriends. How could I say “no” to being their Facebook friend?

My current network of Facebook friends also includes fraternity brothers, family members, neighbors, business contacts, employees and even my wife.

This is all well and good right up to the point that I have now have to carefully monitor the comments friends post on my wall. Do I really want my employees to know my fraternity pledge nickname? Or how about revelations from a spring break trip to Cancun many years ago?

I’ve read much about recent college graduates who dampen their job prospects due to inappropriate material on their Facebook profile. Chalk that up to inexperience. Yet, I’m nearly 40. I should have known this could have happened when I let my worlds collide online.

The real question is what can I do now? Should I de-friend certain inappropriate contacts? Create separate profiles?

I’m stressing…quick…where is my Propecia?


Anonymous said...

HA HA HA! But TALLER than George!
With a FaceBook that I've only been using with my friends, I have the exact "world colliding" concerns bu in reverse. I'm concerned about opening it up for business contacts for those same reasons you mentioned. Nothing bad is on my site ... but what if? Maybe one day there will be a version that has a special section for only close friends.

Anonymous said...

You should definitely make another profile for just your friends and family. There is no reason to have to worry about what pictures get tagges or comments left on your wall. It's not worth it. Just create a new profile and re-friend all of your "non-business" friends.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marc ..
I've considered the same issue as my facebook connections grow.
So .. here is what I would do given the scenario you presented. I would monitor postings & contact friends whom have less than appropriate content posted, let them know how I feel about their posting & ask them to make changes. If this is not done, then I will remove them from my friends list.
I only have 82 friends in facebook & I've found all of them to be posting appropriate content. This maybe because I've carefully selected friends in the past and also because I have not accepted other friends whom I have doubts on.

I also think it would be helpful to post in your profile information on how you think facebook should be used and the steps you will take to maintain it.
This could serve as your "Friend Policy" :)


Marc Hausman said...

@Pagino -- excellent suggestion on posting a "friend" policy on my Facebook profile. It would then be much easier to approach connections who violated the policy to explain why I was de-friending them.


Maggie said...

Lol--I blogged about this same thing a few days ago!

I guess this all goes back to the whole idea of personal branding and authenticity--many would say that it's a bad idea to separate your personal brand from your professional regardless of how casual or intimate your personal brand is. I guess it's all a matter of individual comfort levels.

Harkiron said...

"Profiling" a candidate or an employee is different from prying in an individual's personal / social life and network in order to form an opinion about his / her suitability for a job. I agree wholeheartedly with Mayrah Rocafort-Mercado, and also with Vicki Bass-DeBinion. Simply remove what becomes a bother, if any social networking site has attracted unwanted traffic, and inform those you care to keep. We click on an 'invite' sent as mass-mails by websites (which unscrupulously harvest addresses to broadcast themselves) believing it to be from our contacts. This is demonstrated by my happily married friends UNKNOWINGLY having 'sent' invites to me for dating & matrimonial sites' memberships whereas I am not in the market for either. One peeks out of idle curiousity into a certain website, and before one knows it, a slew of 'invites' have been shot off to his / her contact list! Bane and boon are the two sides of the same Internet. Any solution for THAT?

Larissa said...

Hi Marc - I have set up a "work" friend list that blocks many of the pictures I post on Facebook. It's a privacy customization that really allows only a glimpse into my life. That personal/professional distinction is important, and I found this to be the best solution for me to accept people and maintain one profile.