Social media has added yet another layer of relationship dynamic for us to manage. (Thanks a lot Mark Zuckerburg) The popularity of certain sites has created a portal for just about anyone to “friend”, well, just about anyone else. And with app’s constantly prompting you to share your location or milestones or photo’s, I often find myself treading on the barrier between privacy and stupidity. I mean, why would I want anyone to know my street address? If you recall someone once took all my info and pretended to be me. It was especially fun. But it got me to thinking: Should I “friend” my work colleagues on social media?
These sites have opened a door that is normally kept shut. This open door may find you begrudgingly accepting your boss or work colleague’s “friend request” on Facebook. It creates this grey area where exposing your personal life to your professional acquaintances has to weigh against the opportunity to build on your relationship with them. What to do, what to do…
Whatever your choice or reason, mixing work relationships with social media has it’s pros and cons. For starters, I am able to celebrate success and wins more publically with my work team on social media. But that would mean that my boss gets to see photo’s of my grandmother’s 80th birthday party. Is it worth it? Work place politics can sometimes be worsened when employees have instant access to each other’s personal lives and opinions. Sharing that funny, disparaging pic or commenting on that derogatory post could be offensive and potentially harmful to the way your co-worker’s view you.
Another thing to take into consideration is the fact that your posts can be used against you in court. If your company deems your Facebook or Twitter posts to be harmful to the company’s image, it could result in your dismissal. If your posts are harmful to the business of your employer, they can do something about it. Yes, this includes those “I hate my job so much right now” posts.
The legality around the weight of your social media posts will also get you into trouble if you’re that guy who calls in sick on Monday morning and then posts a dismal looking selfie with the caption “so hungover right now”. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out. But, with that said, employers will also need to tread lightly as far as allegations are concerned. I mean, a picture taken from a balcony of a (far away) beachfront does not mean that your employee has been lying on the beach, sipping pina colada’s. One would hope that common sense will prevail.
With that said, there is the wonderful prospect of being able to connect with each other on a more personal level. On some occasion, it’s great to know where someone is coming from or what they are going through in order to help understand them better.
“Well, is there a middle ground?!!” I hear you cry. Settle down. Yes there is. Let me tell you about it. It’s called ‘privacy settings’ and Facebook, in particular, has introduced a bunch of these privacy controls that would allow you to add people to specific groups and then decide which of your posts they are able to see. There is a very informative article on Techlicious about it.
So there you have it. At the end of the day though, nothing beats actual human conversation. You know, the one where we use our mouths to communicate (instead of our fingers). Maybe the answer to these modern day problems lies in our lack of face to face communication, more than our lack of privacy settings. Something to think about!
For more info on social media vs labour law check out this interesting article I found on News24.