On my Facebook account, I have over 700 “friends.” Going through the list, I can tell you exactly how I know each person, but I can honestly say that I don’t keep a personal friendship with each individual. I am not saying that having Facebook friends is bad, professionally. In fact, this social media site can be used as a networking tool to help keep you posted on what is going on in your friends’ (cough, acquaintances’) lives. What I am trying to say is that you should remain professional during your Facebook expeditions.
When Facebook first became popularized, there were numerous stories about employees getting fired for talking poorly about their bosses or jobs. And while there are so many arguments about protecting your right to free speech, why not avoid this potentially negative situation all together? I would suggest never posting anything negative about your work. It’s one thing to say “TGIF” or “I can’t wait for the weekend,” but something like “I hate my job and can’t wait to leave” or “I can’t stand my co-worker Betty” might have some consequences that you were not expecting, including ruining a positive working environment. Negative opinions about your work are not the only thing that should be avoided on social media sites.
When I was growing up, my mom always told me that it was inappropriate to talk with most people about three things: money, religion and politics. She didn’t mean that I was never allowed to mention anything relating to those topics but that I should be careful about whom I talk to about them. I believe that this rule should apply to Facebook and other social media sites as well. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule about this, but I would suggest staying away from anything that the media is currently arguing with itself about on a daily basis. A general rule that you can follow is to not explicitly take sides on one of the news networks’ hot stories.
Of course you are completely entitled to your own opinion, but as we become part of the professional world, we are encouraged to remain professional in every sense of the word. Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say you get into an argument about politics on Facebook. In some cases, you have two people that firmly believe in opposite sides of the coin. Each is trying to convince the other of his ways, while truly believing that his thought pattern is superior to his opponent’s. In the end, neither individual is going to say “Oh, you know what, you are so right. I’m sorry, my opinion is wrong.” I feel confident in saying that this will never happen—which, let me interject here to say that this outcome is perfectly fine. It is fine to debate, but what you want to think about is “do I care if my 1,000 ‘friends’ see everything that I am saying?” If the answer is no, then go at it! If the answer is yes, take your debate to a more private setting. Make sure that you are honest with yourself when answering, and as always, if you are not sure, don’t do it.
Happy social media-ing!