Would you friend your boss on Facebook?

Would you friend your boss on Facebook?

I was reflecting today on how the line between social media and Real Life has become increasingly blurred over the last few years.

Anyone remember this image?

When I first started blogging, back in 2004, I was intent on keeping my blog separate from my life. I made sure I didn’t use my full name – just my first name, or sometimes Alda Kalda. (That was my own little private joke, and I remember having a GAH! moment when someone actually referred to me by that name, thinking it was real.) Neither did I show my face on the profile photo – only the back of my head. Only my closest relatives and friends knew about my blog, and the prospect of someone I worked for finding out about it was not very appealing – not that I had anything to hide, exactly … it’s just that I wanted to keep my blog and professional personas separate. In fact, I had my professional website, hosted on the very URL on which you are reading this, and then I had my blog – and my resolve was that ne’er the twain should meet.

I don’t know how things changed, exactly. It probably happened as the blog began to take up an increasing amount of space in my life, particularly after I started documenting the economic meltdown and became a sort of unofficial spokesperson for Iceland. It was a little hard to stay anonymous under those kinds of conditions.

Still, relinquishing anonymity came in increments – at some point I put my full name in the footer of my blog as a copyright thing, then I put my face on the profile photo, after a while it seemed silly not to have the URL in my email signature, and finally I was actually linking to it from my professional website.

Today, blogs have largely been replaced by social media, as everyone knows. Not that they are completely outdated – it’s just that their role as a social tool has changed. Whereas in the past they were mostly personal, today they have become primarily professional – whether as a vehicle for making money, or for highlighting your knowledge and/or abilities in your chosen field. In fact, they can often be more important than a resume when it comes to attracting potential clients or employers.

Personally I am no longer shy about blogging on my professional website, or of having my professional and blog personas blend into each other. However, I still have reservations about who I friend on Facebook … so perhaps not that much has really changed.

What about you? Do you care about keeping your personal and professional personas separate? Would you friend your boss on Facebook?

9 Comments
  • kevin oconnor, waterford ireland
    Posted at 15:37h, 24 May Reply

    Gosh you really dont have a big red nose amazing !!!!, I prefer the mean black jacket look. :). The facebook thing is insane people with 1000 friends come on ha ha and I dont have a professional persona the idea of me being professional is too absurd to contemplate. 🙂

  • Jon
    Posted at 16:03h, 24 May Reply

    I have only blogged for a short time, but followed yours since 2007. Mine is mostly personal and only a few readers are people I know in “real life.” I am on Facebook, but use it less and less to the point I may close it out. It is a time thief with the members information being the commodity that is sold. For the most part the postings don’t have much content. That said, it is nice to reconnect to folks you don’t get to see much or at all.

  • Paul H
    Posted at 18:51h, 24 May Reply

    I tend to be an open book.
    I’ve been on twitter since March 2007. I have tweeted away freely, for the most part.
    I have recently been more selective about what I will tweet, since I gained some followers I really would like to keep. I adopted a ‘less is more’ approach.
    Facebook became a lot like twitter for me, at one point, and then I cut back on what I would post there too.
    When I was podcasting I would share all sorts of things. There was also an element of having fun with what I would or would not say. So I played with that dynamic.
    I started blogging in July of last year, after moving here to live in mid-May.
    I am careful about what I post, but I do want to share what’s been going on with me.
    As for friending the boss … well, we were friends before entering a professional relationship. I have not felt any kind of uneasiness with being Facebook friends.
    It was a long time ago I decided privacy was essentially done with.
    I stopped being afraid of people finding out about me, about who I am.
    I started finding there were some really cool people out there that I could get to know through sharing something of myself.
    I would like to present myself in a WYSIWYG or “It does what it says on the tin!” way.
    I am not entirely sure how that fits in with the culture here, generally speaking.
    For the good friends I have made here, it seems to be just fine.

  • Stephen Cowdery
    Posted at 01:16h, 25 May Reply

    I have had blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts. I’ve stuck with my blogs- although they have little to do with my professional life, I would feel uncomfortable with my boss reading them. Fortunately, I don’t think my boss knows how to read! Twitter and FB were just “noise” to me, while Linkedin had some promise but soon became just another social network with way too much sharing. Interestingly enough, I have made several contacts in the “real world” through my blogs, these experiences have been extremely rewarding, but were predicated by a long series of interactions. The longer, more deliberate form of a blog allows these kinds of relationships to develop, although they come and go. One difference between blogs and social networks is that a blog doesn’t have the rigid, artificial structure of a social network. Your blog (assuming it is interactive) is never exactly what you intended it to be. That is both a good and a bad thing—it is messy, just like life.

  • alda
    Posted at 09:36h, 25 May Reply

    Thanks everyone. I suppose everyone has a different relationship with their boss so it would mean different things to different people. Here in Iceland people tend to friend each other indiscriminately on Facebook, but then again, things here tend to be very informal so I suspect it would be less of a problem than elsewhere. Even so, there have been tales of people being “busted” on FB by their boss when they were supposed to have been sick or whatever.

    I don’t agree with Stephen, though, about social media being rigid or inflexible. To me, the beauty of social media sites is how easy they are to use. I can actually be a lot more spontaneous than on a blog, which feels a lot more cumbersome. When I write on a blog now I always feel like I have to post something well-thought-out and reasonable, whereas on a social media site I can say whatever comes to me. Plus the actual logistics are a lot easier – no dashboard to go into, pictures to upload, etc. That said, blogging has different features … I can’t recall the number of times I have wanted to do a strikethrough in a FB update, for example. 😉 Or add a link to text.

  • auður
    Posted at 21:18h, 25 May Reply

    Hey Alda, lovely to see you blogging again! Although the focus of this blog isn’t something I’m interested in particularly I still enjoy reading it cuz you’re just such a great writer 🙂

    I would friend pretty much anyone on Facebook as I use it first and foremost as a ‘business’ tool- letting people know about my music. Apart from that I don’t post much on Facebook and definitely nothing too personal.

  • alda
    Posted at 10:20h, 26 May Reply

    Takk kæra Auður! 🙂 One question: does that apply to your Facebook profile as well as your page? Do you use your profile and your page differently?

  • auður
    Posted at 23:56h, 27 May Reply

    The difference between how I use my page and my profile is slight: on my page I’ll only ever post something to do with my music. Everything I post on my page I’ll post on my profile as well, but I’ll also post the occasional funny pic and stuff like that.

  • Stephen Cowdery
    Posted at 01:56h, 30 May Reply

    In a related note:

    http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/258376/school-forces-12-year-old-hand-over-her-facebook-password

    The problem in the U.S.A. is that there are few restraints to authority, be it a school, a business or a governmental agency. The problem with Facebook™ is that it blithely ignores these issues.

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