Politics and Society, Technology

Socially Awkward

Whether or not employers “should” ask you about your online activity, they do, and they’ll continue to do it. It’s perfectly legal, and it’s not going away anytime soon, so you’d better get used to it, and quit complaining.

Big Brother is watching you *right now!*
Big Brother is watching you *right now!*

Now, most places don’t give a damn about what you do outside of work, as long as it’s not illegal. Even then, a lot of places only care if there’s a chance that it’ll get back to them. If you’re a pedophile teacher, for instance, that’s going to be a problem. If you’re a drug-dealing ATF agent, you might soon be looking for other work.

The thing about online stuff, though, is that it’s not really “behind closed doors.” You knowingly post stuff for people to be able to read, and it’s out there, and it will be out there forever. If you’re using any of the ‘big ones’ (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), even if you delete it off your page, it will still be searchable. Isn’t that right, Enid?! [Enid Ahylhienatta, Technology Consultant]

Some people like to make their stuff real private, but then you are sort of defeating the purpose of “social networking,” right? What’s the point of having material that only you (or a handful of people) can read?

So, if you choose to be posting random things, you’d better make sure they won’t get you in deep with the boss. If you don’t like it, don’t post things. That’s the way it is. Plain and simple. Don’t go bitching about it. You can’t change it. So deal with it!

by Tuppence “Penny” Piazza | Residential Life Magazine 

Suri Says

Suri Says: Ugly Sweaters

Dear Suri, There is a group at my work that organizes events: holiday parties, potlucks, and other things. Usually, the stuff they plan is actually pretty fun. But for this year’s holiday party, they’re doing an “ugly sweater” contest, and that is where I draw the line.

First of all, I don’t make a habit of purposely wearing something that would be called ‘ugly.’ I’m not a fashionista by any means, and I don’t really focus on clothing labels, or a certain designer, or what have you. I do like to look good, and I do put in the necessary effort to be able to look good, and I am not ashamed of it one bit! So, why should I throw all that away and try to be tacky?

Fun or Fashion?
Fun or Fashion?

Next, I’m not really into going out and buying a sweater that I’d only wear once. I think that is a waste of time and money, especially at the holidays! It’s actually unfair, I think, to ask employees to do this.

Also, I know someone is going to get a bit too tipsy and take some pictures, and then post them all over Facebook! I just don’t need those images to be available for everyone to see until the end of time!

My fiancé says I need to “suck it up” and just wear the sweater. I think he’s wrong. I think your advice might be better.  So, I am writing to get a second opinion! — Amalie L. | Shoreline, Washington


Dear Amalie, Workplace politics can, admittedly, try even the most patient among us. How we choose to conduct ourselves around our coworkers and superiors, however, can have lasting effects on both our professional and personal lives.

Most office parties last only a few hours. Could you not endure wearing the sweater for this short amount of time? Following the festivities, you could simply slip it off and return to an outfit you’re more comfortable in. You may also choose to bring the garment to work and find a place to change just prior to the party. This could keep to a minimum any potential embarrassment or awkward feelings you may experience.

I presume you will not be the only person wearing an “ugly sweater.” You may, however, find yourself the only one not joining in the fun. Next month, many people will forget all about the party. There will, however, be a group that will remember those who chose not to participate.

Your decision has the potential to create lasting perceptions that could translate into less than desirable consequences. Choose wisely. ~ Suri


About Suri Says™

Suri Syrtauwnya is the resident advice queen at Residential Life Magazine. Her unique insight into “pickles and predicaments” (as she puts it) has helped many of us sort out even the most difficult of decisions. Now, we’re sharing this valuable resource! Submit your questions for Suri.


Un-Friending Big Brother

A friend recently posted “unsolicited advice” (her words, not mine) on her Facebook account, warning young people seeking employment to know and monitor the information about them on social networking sites.  I wondered why they don’t just make their profiles private?

Employers searching for online information about job candidates is nothing new, it’s just become more prevalent (and easier!) in this age of social media. People still, however, have more control than they think when it comes to what is seen by whom.

Though nearly hidden, Facebook allows users to remain almost completely anonymous. This would, of course, defeat the purpose of social networking, but may be a tool to use temporarily, particularly when job seeking.

A friend set up his account in such a way that only family members (and, I suppose, close friends) are able to see what he’s up to. This may seem like an extreme measure to take, but it serves his needs quite well. He wanted to be part of the ‘scene,’ but also wanted to protect his privacy.

Social media has, though, become an integral part of our lives. For those who don’t want to completely erase their ‘footprint,’ I suggest creating a ‘professional’ online presence.

I have multiple accounts on various social networking sites, each with its own privacy settings. Because I use LinkedIn for freelance opportunities and professional networking, I’ve set up the account to allow virtually anyone to contact me, and see my information.

On the other hand, I have two accounts each for Facebook and Twitter: one for personal posts, and another that takes on more of a professional tone.

I use my initials (you could also use a nickname) for my personal sites, and my full, legal name for the ‘work accounts.’ I don’t cross-link the accounts (no ‘friending’ or ‘liking’).

The result is that — for the most part — I am able to maintain two separate online identities, while controlling what information is seen by what people. Because I’m not really outright hiding anything from anyone, I’m sure the potential exists for an employer to realize my ‘ruse,’ but online subterfuge was never really part of the plan, in the first place.

Another aspect of my ‘unsolicited advice’ for young people would be to create a website dedicated to their professional endeavors. ‘JaneSmith.com’ or ‘BestChefSanFrancisco.net’ — something along those lines.

The site will become a ‘living resume’ and online portfolio that you can include in your job seeking correspondence. Provided you make a commitment to frequently update content, it will also have the added benefit of displaying first (or of the first) in search results.

Maintaining an online presence doesn’t have to be a compromise of security or privacy. You can protect your online identity. If employers want to try and find something online that might disqualify you from a position, show them you can ‘play the game’ better than them.

by Enid Ahylhienatta | Technology Consultant | Residential Life Magazine