I want to share a story from my real life with you…
A few years back, my youngest cousin was in college. She was at one of the large universities in our region and majoring in their interior design program, which is one of the best programs in the south east. She was doing incredibly well while also enjoying her college experience to the fullest. She was in a sorority and was attending lots of parties. She was having a blast. During her junior year, she started applying for internships, a requirement for her degree.
As she sent in her resume to multiple interior design companies, she was either getting no return calls or was getting rejected and couldn’t understand why. She reached out to me due to me being one of the older cousins. I looked over her resume, which looked great. Despite her resume, I suspected I knew why she wasn’t getting offered interviews. I suggested to her that the next time she was declined an interview in a phone call, she ask if there were any specific concerns the company had so that she could attempt to address them as she continued searching.
About a week later, she called me in tears. I asked her what was wrong. Her response to my question was, “They said they won’t hire me because of what they saw on my Facebook wall.”
As a hiring manager at a major academic medical center, this was precisely why I felt she wasn’t getting interviews…having seen what she had been posting for years.
She had every right to enjoy her college experience and I am glad she did. What she had gone and done, however, was plaster her Facebook wall with pictures of her and her friends drunk, with pictures bordering on lewd behavior and comments that were anything but appropriate in a professional environment. This one company was honest enough to tell her that they had concerns that her behavior, as she portrayed it on her Facebook page, would reflect poorly on the company, no matter how legal it was. As she cried to me about this, arguing that it was her wall and she should be able to post whatever she wanted, I asked her one simple question… “M, once you get your internship, did you plan on posting that information to your wall and/or listing it as a job?” Her response was that of course she was going to do that!
And that, right there, ladies and gentleman was why she wasn’t getting interviews and internship offers.
Social media has caused a storm in our world. While it has granted us this incredibly freedom of expression, it also comes with risks. My RL employer has a company policy that they reserve the right to terminate you, without warning, if you identify yourself as a hospital employee anywhere on your page and post anything which the hospital feels reflects poorly on them. Honestly, I have seen it done. In fact, I fired one team member for posting disparaging remarks about the hospital on her Facebook page. With what she said, I didn’t have choice but to fire her, nor did I lose any sleep over it.
In the real world, these policies are more common than you think. And people think that just because they list their profile as private, people can’t see. Wrong. Not only are companies able to find their way to your wall if you have just one contact in common with them, but many companies as have a legal right to bypass that block. Hospitals, the military, public safety organizations and educational institutions have the legal right to bypass your privacy settings and see your wall. Any company that requires licensing or bonding for their employees can get around your privacy settings.
So why do I share this here?
I am not trying to speak for everyone here, only myself. While SL and blogging are hobbies to me, I try to treat my blog somewhat like a business. I know other bloggers who do the same. I also know that many of our amazing creators in SL make a portion, if not all, of their RL income through their SL stores. Additionally, many blogger and event managers either supplement or earn all of their RL income in world. SL has become a business for so many. As for me, I don’t get paid in Lindens, but I am able to sample some of the most amazing decor and clothing in exchange for a minimum number of posts each month highlighting the creations. To blog these items is a job. Nothing like what the creators do but still a job that pays me through what is essentially a barter system.
With that being said, sure I post my smart ass comments. Sure I post borderline inappropriate memes and comments. However, I also know there is a line I cannot cross. There are things I should not say. Just as much as we bloggers like to remind the creators that we watch what they are doing and saying, and that we talk among ourselves, the blogger managers and creators do the same.
I was fortunate to learn this lesson relatively early on when I was invited to three teams in the span of about two to three weeks, outside of blogger calls. These were all stores I dreamed of blogging for. In each invite, one statement that I heard from all three blogger managers was, “I’ve been watching you and…”
I think it is important that we, as bloggers, make sure we are leading by example as much as we expect the creators and event owners to do the same. We have followers. Some of us stay with teams for years upon years. We represent the brands we blog for. We represent the creators. If I crossed that line of humor to questionable or offensive behavior, I could not fault a designer for releasing me from their team. Nor could I fault them for rejecting my application.
Am I saying we shouldn’t have fun with our blogging and Facebook walls? Not at all. We should be able to. But having fun and being indecent reflects poorly upon you, the blogging community as a whole and the brand you represent.
SL is a virtual world with limitless possibilities. That does not mean there should be no boundaries on our behavior. It means that what we do on our SL social media should reflect who we are as the people controlling our avatars.
This means we, just as we expect our amazing creators to do, should show ourselves in the best possible light…always.
Remember…just as much as we talk quietly about the creators, they do the same with us.
See it on Flickr.