While social media has provided many of us with perfect opportunities to engage with others, muse over issues and express an opinion on almost anything under the moon and the sun, social media can also make us lose our jobs very quickly.
If you are an opinionated individual and want privacy to express yourself online, then restrict your social media accounts’ visibility and have your connections and “followers” very carefully vetted (i.e. no one from your job circle etc.).
While many of us (myself included), have that infamous mention on our profile pages “personal views only”, that is not a way out of trouble nor does it help us justify why we said what we did, why we didn’t react to something or, most of all, why didn’t we apologise for something we said.
I have a very good friend who got fired early this year because of her opinions on doing business in Russia and Russian oligarchs. Why? Because her employer has been trying to penetrate the Russian market for a while and the first deal to make that happen was coming close to fruition. She was the Head of Public Relations for this company and, today, saying something in a personal capacity and then spinning it in your professional capacity doesn’t work anymore.
I know someone else who, although he would never admit it publicly, ended up with a formal warning because he expressed his views on Brexit and on the Government’s inability to handle the EU negotiations properly – his PR agency has a framework contract with the Crown Commercial Services.
If you are the owner of a business or someone whose opinion doesn’t count in your employer’s decision-making process, then you can afford – within the boundaries of decency and common sense, I’d say – to be yourself and express your genuine opinions on social media.
What does this all tell us? It tells us that authenticity comes with a steep price sometimes and that, just as you would do in a public setting, you need to mind both your words and actions:
Social media cannot only get you fired but it can also make you unemployable. I don’t know if you noticed but, even when someone deletes a tweet these days, all their followers can still see its first lines in their timeline.
The funniest thing of all is that the society expects us to be authentic, genuine and have our online persona match our real-life attitude. That is becoming harder and harder when, concomitantly, our employers and wider society expect us to be “holier than though” – that’s hypocritical and insincere, wouldn’t you say?
There is no surprise then that those of us who have the courage to tell it like it is are becoming more and more popular in our online networks, and that those who take a public (though inappropriate some would say) stand on national television are acclaimed by the wider public for being brave enough to do it.
While this is clearly the case and, to some extent, understood by many if not all of us, the question is:
Does online/public notoriety translate into job security or employability?
For some, if they are “nice”, it does – for others, if they “tell it like it is”, it doesn’t.