Not to long ago, I had read an article on how some are “suddenly” worried about being discriminated against because of something they had posted on their facebook, or other social networking sites. The specific article had gone on to talk about how they were worried it was going to get to the point where someone would be denied a job because they are a “fan” of a certain band. The article had been penned in the way to infuriate and worry the reader that they themselves could be discriminated against in such a way.
Because I’ve always been kind of a believer in that if its something you are worried about sharing with everyone, then just don’t post it, I kind of felt myself having less sympathy for this “hypothetical” situation. Furthermore, if a company is really rating how good of an employee “you might be”, by guessing that because you like “Band X”, you must be a slacker…. I’m not sure I have much confidence in that kind of decision-making logic, so I might just well be better off not being put in that position to rely on them for my employment. I could just as likely wear a red shirt to work one day, and be deemed as aggressive risk because of some internet poll… who knows. Aside from disappointment worked up by our own personal expectations, really not being hired by a crazy company.. its still in my view its kind of a no harm no foul.
I had kind of shrugged off the article, and not really thought about it again until today.
The reason I thought about it today, was because I had received a friend request on facebook from someone who had a name I didn’t recognize at all. So in trying to figure out why this person had selected me as someone they wanted to be “friends” with, and because my memory isn’t always so good with connecting names and faces, I followed my normal steps to see if this was someone I knew.
First I checked to see if we had any mutual friends, and their location… because sometimes I can realize that I do actually know the person once my brain associates them with a place I might know them from. It’s a sad statement on my memory banks I guess, but I have been pleasantly surprised a few times in re-discovering someone I had known and had actually would like to check in with from school or elsewhere.. who I just didn’t recognize maybe because of a new name or something.
.. no dice, we had no mutual friends in this case..
So second, I look at their page to see if I recognize their picture, again because sometimes the face/name association part of my brain doesn’t work as quickly as it should.
… this person looked slightly familiar, but kinda in that way where they look sorta like a few people you know, and you start wondering if it is a sibling or something.. lol
Third, still not being sure, I took a look at their info page to see if anything they’ve put up there – rings any bells at all.
Upon viewing their info, I found out that they did have an plainly stated and outlined wish to “sell” and/or “push” an idea. Definitely gave the real impression that they were gathering “friends” to do so. They were also apparently a pretty vocal and obvious fan of one of my least favorite “talking heads”. I’m not really wanting to be spammed, and least of all, spammed with repeated viewpoints I’ve already heard, that I already disagree with. Let alone the fact that I didn’t know them from Adam.. (bad pun that is funny only me because that was this guys first name.. hehe) Also, had no real interest in sharing any of my more personal information with this individual at this time.
So…. I went ahead and chose to ignore the friend request at that point.
But then I got to thinking.. I started to think about that article.
Had I just in a different way, discriminated against this person by choosing not to “friend” them, the same way that they were talking about prospective employers doing?
If you removed from thought, the obvious differences between sharing with “A friend”, and with a “prospective employer”, I guess that in my attempt to decipher who this person was, it probably did fall inline with what I had read about. In a way, I had chosen not to associate with that particular person because of what they had posted (in addition to simply not knowing them). So from the article’s stand point, I had probably discriminated against that individual. It’s quite possible that he is a wonderful life-affirming individual who I have just lost out on getting to know. But even in that case, its really just my loss right? All they’ve lost out on at that point is being associated with a “discriminating friend”, and that’s not really a loss is it?
It had then occurred to me that we make these kind of choices all the time. Its not new. Its not something that never happened before these social sites came to be. In many cases it isn’t even malicious. On a regular basis humans use whatever information they have to decipher a course of action. It’s our perception of the information, not necessarily the truth of the information that influences our decisions. At the same time, it’s also our perception that regulates how deeply we allow ourselves to be emotionally wounded, and how intensely we feel wronged.
It makes me think that maybe the whole issue is one of not only perception, but over-sensitivity. Its our past experience generated perceptions that lead most individuals to select a specific choices, and it’s our choices that we are judged on. It can walk a fine line between considered discrimination or simple case of deciphering, all dependent on the viewers perception. Kind of interesting the understanding that the exact same steps taken before making a decision matter less, than the outcome. In many cases, nothing actually becomes offensive until the outcome is not the one that we like… and then all the sudden it can become a major injustice or travesty, a personal attack, or a example of discrimination.
If the person in the original article had been writing about how someone had landed a job because of something they had posted on their social networking site, then the tone would have been much different. Possibly even praising the use of those terms to find out about a prospective employee by the prospective employers.
I think we commonly over-exaggerate the impact of some things that happen to us. We give events and other people far more power in our lives and our viewpoints than we should. We could be far happier if we realized that maybe we are better off because of some of these “unanswered prayers” went unanswered. Who wants to purposely be in the position of working for, or having to deal with people who adhere to unreasonable principles? Aren’t we kind of better off without that demeaning influence? I would think the constant “egg shell walking” from unreasonable views would cause damage to me after awhile. I’m just saying, it may not be that bad of a thing, and might not actually be the end of the world.
Please understand that I’m not in any way meaning to insinuate that discrimination is ok. I am merely trying to call into perspective that in which we define as being discrimination. Is it because we were actually discriminated against, or is it because we just didn’t like the outcome? Was it a misunderstanding that was avoidable on our part? or is it because of an actual sense of misguided hate?
All this said, In regards to the original article, It still leaves me with my exact same opinion that I had before. Be a little more responsible… If it’s something you think may inhibit your prospective employment options, and you choose to leave your profile open to the public, then don’t post it! If you have things in your life that could be perceived by any possible employer, as making you a risky investment.. then maybe don’t over-share? If friends are posting pictures and tagging you in pictures showing you in less than flattering situations.. its probably time to consider talking to that friend, or just trying a little harder to not be photographed in less than appealing situations. Maybe even choose to have your social networking be a bit more private..
Just a thought..