Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dear Facebook I Burned Down A Garage


When I was about 6 years old, my best friend and I almost burned down his garage. Back then the biggest long term repercussion I had to worry about was what would happen when dad got home. (He was a volunteer fireman and boy was he going to be pissed!)

My friend lived across the street and we were playing one summer afternoon in Oregon. My memory is that it was a sunny day – but this was Oregon – so I doubt it. We found some matches and thought it would be fun to start a little fire. Fire was cool. We had a whole empty garage to work with (for that matter we could have done this outside) but for some reason we thought setting up our little fire in the corner of the garage would be best. We piled up some papers and a few other things that would burn and lit it on fire. One of those other things turned out to be a kerosene soaked rag and that fire took off. It was really cool for about 5 seconds, and then we realized something was wrong. Fortunately mothers, and fire trucks, got there pretty quickly and we just ruined one side of a wall. (And the backsides of our butts).

What if my mom would have thought this was a cute story to post on her Facebook account. My little imp, she might say. All my mom’s close friends would get a kick out of it. But then, so would all their close friends. Before you know it, maybe about a 1000 close and not so close friends would know about it. Would everyone think I was a cute little imp? Would everyone think my mom was a good mom? Could this have hurt her career?

My wife works in early childhood development. If this were our son, would this reflect on her?

I love social media and I am even an advocate of using social media in the hiring process, but the one big problem we have to solve before any of us can be comfortable with it is PRIVACY. We have to let people live their lives. It is a lot of fun to keep up with family and friends. Social Media is an easy way to have an extended family even if that family extends around the globe. But not everything that happens in social media is job relevant. If companies are going to start using social media in their hiring process they have to first get that distinction right. My electronic footprint says a lot about me. I like that. But stay away from my personal life – you don’t need to know about that.

To paraphrase an old saying: “What happens in Facebook Stays in Facebook.”

Now, if you will excuse me – I have a neighbor’s garage I need to go to.