An Economy of True Friendship…and Penalties

ABC writes Facebook: Job Hunters Over 30 Beware.

It includes the story of “Stella” – a 36 year old publicist who’s past came back to haunt her on Facebook. One of her sorority sisters from years ago thought it would be a good idea to publish embarrassing photos of her:

“You can now find me squatting to pee behind a fraternity house, shot-gunning a beer and flashing my top half for a pledge class photo.”

Because a lot of Stella’s clients and colleagues also use Facebook, she begged her long-lost sorority sister to take the photos down.

“She thought I was being paranoid, but I don’t care,” Stella said. “Even though my own privacy settings are tight, I don’t trust my friends’ privacy settings.”

Maybe her friend would feel differently if the photo was of her.

There are tales of people losing their jobs or integrity because of what they’ve said on the internet. Sometimes somebody’s own foolishness comes back to bite them. One recent story is that of a Twitter user who, shortly after accepting a job with Cisco, tweeted the following:

Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute and hating the work.

Cisco, being a company whose equipment is used in server rooms all over the world, is pretty good at the internet. My guess is this tweet came up in an Twitter feed search for “Cisco”, alerting Cisco that this guy, whoever he is, didn’t approach his new job with the highest enthusiasm. No problem. They can take it away from him.

But Stella’s problem isn’t necessarily because of her foolishness. Like everybody, Stella did some stupid things in her life, maybe some of them fun at the time. But she had the common sense to understand that maybe she shouldn’t put those photos on the internet. Clearly, those photos give her fond memories of her college days and her past – and they are private.

No. Her problem is because of someone else’s foolishness. Even asking her friend to remove the photos, she chose not to.

While Facebook can make it easier and fun to stay in touch with your friends, it also reveals other sides of the people you’ve decided to include in your life. Some good. Some bad. Facebook’s sharing problems, the problems that arise because you can’t control what your friends say about you, will never go away. It happens in real-life™.

So, what to do? What do you do when a friend disrespects you so much to put these kinds of photos of you online?

Simple, I think. This person has demonstrated that they do not care about you. They do not have any empathy for you and, for some reason, can’t seem to understand why you don’t want to have a picture of your head in a toilet or of you peeing behind some bushes on Facebook. They’re not really your friend.

Unfriend them.

If Facebook users understood that the consequences of doing thoughtless things on Facebook are the same as doing them in real-life™, maybe these kinds of things wouldn’t happen so much. But the thing is that there are thoughtless, inconsiderate people all around you, and some of them are in your life because you’ve made a decision to include them.

So don’t. These people are toxic. Don’t let them into your life.

Still, for social networking there appears to be no penalty for doing this kind of stuff. Did Stella unfriend her sorority sister? Who knows. If you’ve been on any social network then you understand that unfriending somebody is considered social suicide. It’s a statement of where you believe you actually stand with somebody. It hurts their feelings.

Good. You need that to happen once in a while, especially to these people.

And if there are others that these people have incriminating photos of and have refused to take down, those others should unfriend them too. And before you know it, these jerks don’t have any friends on Facebook.

You know – just like in real-life™

Photo by Flickr user avalonstar