Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facebook: Our Grown-Up Playground....

We seem to be stuck in a system of gloom. The humidity outside is so thick that inside, everything feels almost sticky. The easy solution for this would be to put the air conditioning on but, so far, at home, I refuse. It's almost October and the temperature gauge is only reading 82 degrees. It seems extraneous to turn it on when fans are sufficing. It's just that blasted stickiness which isn't going away.

I listened to the weather this morning. I know, I know, it's pointless as I complain regularly. Yet I was hoping to find out when this nasty, humid, gloomy front would pass us by. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Mr. Weatherman doesn't seem to know. All he can say is, "you might have thunderstorms." Seriously, he seems positively befuddled at what's happening and hasn't any idea how long it will last and if, in fact, it will even rain, even though it always seems to look like rain. So....basically, I have absolutely no idea if it's going to rain or if the humidity is going away any time soon.

Ah well, I suppose it means it'll be a surprise if anything actually happens with the weather. It doesn't mean I don't often wonder how Mr. Weatherman keeps his job. That's just one of the mysteries of life.

Still, I'm sure there's much more to not knowing what the weather is going to do than it seems on TV.

While I was waiting for Mr. Weatherman's vague forecast, I had the news on. I like to listen to the news in the morning. I did prefer it when I didn't have to leave quite so early for work because they do a segment that's called, "News from around the U.S." that airs later in the morning. This report usually features cute stories about bears that wander into people's yards, monkeys that do cute things in various zoos and dogs that are awfully clever. There's something nice about seeing animals on the news instead of just hearing about people shooting each other, shooting policemen or shooting themselves.

One of the stories I did hear is that the Florida Bar Association (or something similarly named) is now using social networking sites such as Facebook to research candidates for law jobs and law school. Apparently, they're using it to research job candidates who might have joined Facebook groups like, "Lawyers Suck!" or "I HATE my lawyer" and then decide to become lawyers.

Now, personally, I think this is a little bit too much. Also, I'd like to think if I hired a lawyer who had joined a Facebook group like that and then become a lawyer, he or she would be smart enough to unjoin the group before actually becoming a lawyer.

Still, even so, I still think that's a bit of a snoopy job practice.

I admit; I love Facebook. I used to be on MySpace when that was the trendy place to be. Unfortunately with MySpace, it got overrun with porn, stupid spam mail and just became a bit of a ghost town because all my friends were defecting over to Facebook.

I followed them only to reconnect with the most bizarre assortment of friends I could ever have expected. I found old friends in England, friends from high school whom I had lost after graduation, cousins, aunts, was and is fantastic for that.

I don't spend quite as much time on the site as a lot of my friends do. Most days, my time on there is spent updating my status to something rather asinine and reading my friends' statuses. It's a fantastic way of knowing what people are up to without having to make too much of a commitment. I love it.

I don't use Facebook for sharing really personal information. Some of my friends give a lot of personal info in their status updates, stuff I wouldn't want the entire world of my facebook making to know. It's a personal choice, I get that. It's not one I make but it doesn't mean I frown on those that do share information.

For me, the key word there is personal. Facebook is a place to electronically socialize, to catch up, to take silly quizzes and just have fun. I found out that if I were a character in True Blood, it would be Pam; I actually was quite pleased with that. She's sarcastic, hilarious, a snappy dresser and best of all gets to hang around with Eric. I also discovered my personality type, got addicted to Bejewelled Blitz and found out that my Patronus (from Harry Potter) would be a polar bear.

What it comes down to is that Facebook is a big old place for us grownups to go play as if we were kids again. The games and toys are not dolls and miniature cars, they're quizzes, silly games and becoming fans of TV shows, authors, groups, name it, there's probably a group. It's a big old electronic playground and the time we spend there is like our playtime, our recess.

So, naturally, feeling the way I do about Facebook, I find it a little off-putting that employers seem to think this is a good way to spy on potential candidates. I'm not saying that I don't see why they're doing it. I suppose it is a good way to get a sense of a person. Also, you can make your profile private so that they can't see more than your picture. But if it means employers are asking permission to see a profile, that's a different story. That, to me, is a violation of my personal life. I wouldn't allow them to come over and search my house to find out who I am, what I like, what I do in my spare time. IThat seems to be what they're doing by looking around Facebook. I'd get it if I were applying to be in the FBI or CIA or something classified. I mean, you wouldn't want someone whose addicted to Farmville and can only think about that to become a CIA agent, would you? Then again, I don't think a person like that would be applying to the CIA so it's a non-issue.

So, really, I don't think there's many excuses for an employer to be snooping on my Facebook profile. Granted, if I'm silly enough to befriend my boss, I don't think I'm daft enough to do anything on Facebook that's incriminating. In that case, it'd be my choice that I'm allowing them into my personal life; at least I know my boss and I'm consciously allowing them to snoop.

For potential employers though, it doesn't seem quite right. I know there are arguments to my point and I'm absolutely willing to hear them. For me, personally, however, I just don't think it's right that because in 2009 we have an electronic 'playground' like Facebook, employers are exploiting that. After all, when we were in our early years of school, we'd huddle on the playground and swap erasers, pencil sharpeners and stickers. Granted, it was in the more innocent days when underage drug deals were still an unreal notion but teachers didn't stop us; they'd take one look at the bright coloured swap-materials, smile and walk away. They knew that playtime (recess to you American readers) was for the kids, not for the teachers. Provided we didn't do anything obviously naughty, they left us to our own devices.

The obvious point is that just because employers can do that, doesn't mean they should. I could argue that it's different for employees than it is for potential employees because then, at least, that employee has an obligation to the company for which they work in that they don't do anything to put it or it's reputation in jeopardy. Yet, even then, Facebook snooping should only be utilized in the most necessary of circumstances: Suspected murder, pedophilia and the like. Otherwise, it should be off limits and for the nosy boss who can't resist, they should NOT be allowed to hold anything they read from the employee against them.

I suppose it's all debatable really. As always, I'm just stating my ranty opinion. There's always two sides to an argument. Still, for me, as long as I know I can hide behind a 'private' setting on Facebook, I'm only letting people I know 'friend me' on Facebook. I don't even do anything on there that I'm embarrassed to share... It's more just the point of the thing. Facebook is my play place and I shouldn't be afraid to be me on there in case someone holds it against me or decides that because I belong to Mario Batali's fan group, I'm a pig and I eat too much...

Overall, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Facebook allows people to judge unfairly based on how they utilize the website. It's easy to dismiss someone for the groups they belong to, for the jokes they share when, in truth, that may not affect the fact that they'd be a stellar employee and could reap great things for a company.

When we were kids, we used to do things like run around with our coats extended, pretending we were superheroes, flying around. Teachers just let us do it because it blew off steam. We needed that. We still need that. Sure, it's probably not smart to declare you hate lawyers and then become one what if you do? Unless you have a Dexter-like habit of waiting in the shadows and taking them out one-by-one, does it really do any harm? Does it mean you're not a good lawyer because you don't like other lawyers?

I suppose it's all in the interpretation.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Happy Wednesday.

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