Social Media: #itscomplicated

By July 5, 2012 No Comments

Last week I “liked” a colleague/friend’s Facebook status about a political issue. Ten minutes later I got a Facebook message from another colleague saying they had “unfriended” me because they didn’t agree with my stance on said issue.

To be fair, I have a lot of FB friends, and only one commented on my “like,” but it still made me think. Don’t I have the right to “like” or post or tweet from my personal views, or do I always have to think about the views of organizations I’m associated with?

So, I called my boss and asked him his opinion. Here’s what he said: “You are who you are. Go for it. You have the right to have your own views outside of the organizations you represent.” But then he added, “Just use your best judgment.” And I was back to square one. What the heck does that mean?

In other words, there’s always a line we aren’t supposed to cross, but no one is really sure what it is.

Some of you have chosen to stay as far away from the line as possible just to be safe. That’s one approach, but let me tell you about a story I heard recently about a job candidate who lost a job doing that.

A young man in his mid-20’s was the leading finalist for a teen program director. As a matter of course, the supervisor found his Facebook page. The end of the story is the candidate lost the job because of his Facebook page, but it’s not what you think. He lost the job because his page was so sterile that the director thought he couldn’t be authentic. “This guy was going to be working with teenagers. There was no way they could respect someone who was that fake.” Different twist, huh?

Social media is complicated. For those of you who want clear rules—bad news: there aren’t any. But for what it’s worth, here’s my “best judgment”: be you. Take a stand. Share your heart. Tell me who you are. Then I can decide whether to “like” your opinion and you or not. But for sure, I’ll respect you for taking a stand.

And for those who are too small-minded to respect people with different opinions, please “unfriend” away. I hope you won’t think badly of my company, or my school, or my church, or my salon because of my views, but if you do, so be it.

I’ve chosen to commit to those organizations because they align with my values, even if they don’t always align with my opinions and politics. I trust them to use their best judgment when judging me. And, to be honest, I’m very proud to call you my “unfriend.”

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