Neither An Oversharer Nor An Undersharer Be

21st century life is a strange beast.  We’re a generation so accustomed to living life online that it’s practically second nature.  When we meet someone cool, we Facebook friend them the next day.  If we want to get the latest on a news story, we check on Twitter.  Job seeking, apartment hunting, shopping, dating, food ordering, and just about everything else is done online or through an app or in some sort of virtual world that doesn’t involve actually going anywhere.  Everyone blogs or Tumbles or shares personal playlists on Spotify or contributes to crowd sourced Flickr streams – doing any or all of these things doesn’t make you stand out, it makes you part of the crowd.

With all of this said, it can make blogging both a very rewarding and a very challenging task.  I love to blog – I’m not particularly good at talking about my feelings or concerns or fears in person but for some reason, I’m happy to expose my insecurities and anxieties and small moments of triumphs with my wonderful world of Internet friends (and people who find me with really strange Google searches).  The sense of community and connection that can build out of something so small as putting a few words on the Internet about how life in your 20s can be terrible and awesome all at once is pretty incredible.

But it’s not always as easy as it seems.  I find myself culling not just my personal experiences but the experiences of others for blog fodder.  Whenever I’m having a conversation with a friend whose struggling with a job hunt or freaking out over a cross country move or drowning in financial uncertainty, my mind often starts drafting blog posts in my head.  Conversely, when I write a really personal, honest post about my own failings, I hesitate to put it out there too much, worried what my friends will think about me when they see me in the flesh.  Am I tapping into a vein of shared misgivings and misadventures or am I truly the one screw-up in the bunch?

I’m coming off of a couple of pretty good weeks – I’m hitting a stride at my job despite still having way to much free time, I have a great group of friends, and I’ve even had the chance to do some guest-blogging.  But all those fears and anxieties and uncertainties don’t go away and whenever someone I know confesses they share that fear, it takes everything in my power not to rush to the nearest laptop and start transcribing our conversations.  So, consider this blog post an apology of sorts – for my friends, I’m sorry if things we discuss occasionally end up on this blog and I promise to never purposefully share your stories without your permission.

For my readers, I’m sorry if sometimes I hold back on the really juicy real life examples until I can ply my friends with booze and promises of low readership into granting me permission to help illustrate that we’re just hot messes pretending to have our lives together online.

The Price of Privacy: Are Facebook Passwords Fair Game?


First, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to my new followers – it’s so great to be connecting with other bloggers and I love all of your tweets, emails, comments, etc.  Y’all are truly the best.

Also, I’m looking for new faces to feature in the Fearless Post-Collegiate interview series.  Drop me an email at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me a little about yourself and we’ll go from there.  I’m looking for anyone of any age and any background whose willing to share a little bit about their life, their triumphs and challenges in post-collegiate living, and their future ambitions, whatever they may be.

On to the topic of the week – and it’s a doozy:  how much privacy is a job seeker afforded these days?  As the Internet has been buzzing about the practice of requesting Facebook passwords from job seekers, it’s been interesting to see the reactions ranging from “HELL NO, HANDS OFF MY PRIVATE INFORMATION” to “If you really need a job, you’ll do anything.”

It’s a tricky issue – I tend to believe that you have to stand behind what you say, which includes what you say on the Internet.  If you have information that is shared publicly, you have to accept the reality that people (including potential employers – and your mother!) will see it.  This is why private accounts were invented – to allow you to share information that you choose with the people that you choose.  It’s also why many college career centers are encouraging young graduates to be smart about their Internet presence – Google yourself to see if anything unsavory can be found, keep personal information private, and develop a professional persona that will satisfy a future employer.

But are there legal grounds to request your password?  It’s legally within your right as a job seeker to refuse but are you jeopardizing your chance at a job?  That seems to be the concern most heavily raised on Twitter and blogs in the last day or two – if you’re desperate to find the right job, are you willing to sacrifice a little personal freedom, even temporarily?  This has never happened to me in a job interview ever but if the request ever came up, I would politely refuse and insist that I would not want to compromise my personal information.  As it’s been oft-quoted, giving up a password to a social site like Facebook is akin to turning over the keys to your house – you just shouldn’t do it.

It’s hard to be unemployed and/or job hunting right now.  The economy is still slow-growing in many areas and the market feels saturated with over-educated, under-employed, talented candidates.  But this doesn’t give employers the right to force potential employees to give up any semblance of a private life.  Just as the Internet generation is learning the repercussions of sharing information on-line and how to do so effectively and professionally, employers and head-hunters have to realize that with a global shift to virtual living that the traditional bounds of the employer/employee relationship still exist in a digital world.  And as one great commenter says on The Takeaway, unless they’re willing to give up their passwords, why should you?

Making Us All Look Bad

I think twenty-somethings get a bad rap.  In various media trend pieces this past year, we’re described as self-centered, immature, foolishly optimistic, or entitled, which is of course, ridiculous.  Most people I meet my age are bright, creative, ambitious, dedicated, and compassionate.  On top of that, most of us who are gainfully employed feel a genuine sense of appreciation and responsibility, having found stability in a difficult time.

Which is why I’m a little infuriated with a hot story circulating around the DC blogs about congressional staffers engage (and tweeting) about on the job drinking.  As TwentySomething City points out, while the office of a Congressman of the minority party may not be a hotbed of legislative activity and all the messages were sent using personal Twitter accounts, this doesn’t reflect well on Congressman Rick Larsen – or on twentysomethings!

This validates two complaints I often here from collegues in their 30s and 40s about twentysomethings in the workplace – 1) they don’t know how to use social media responsibly on the job and 2) they feel they are entitled to goof off/space out/focus on personal activities on the job.  Looking at the Twitter messages of the offending staffers will make you cringe.  References to taking shots in the office, showing up drunk, bragging about your taxpayer salary paying for you to watch YouTube videos – there’s really no good way to spin this.

I realize this is a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the bunch – and I’d be lying if I said I never tweeted or blogged at work or showed up nursing a hungover – but there’s something about the brazen swagger of this trio that really grinds my gears.  I also have to call into question the senior staff – what sort of work environment, especially a public servant’s office, would allow this kind of activity to happen?

Does anyone know someone who was fired for something they said on social media?  Any positive or negative experiences with coworkers exhibiting behavior similar to these staffers, regardless of age?  Share your stories in the comments!