Is Discretion Passe? A Throwback to Ages Past?

A friend told me some weeks ago about a teenage classmate of her son’s who posted something on Facebook that was so wildly inappropriate that she felt it necessary to take him to task.  As I thought about that, and other stories I’ve heard and things I’ve seen, I began to wonder is the new generation losing the concept of appropriate and inappropriate public conversation?  Now, to be honest growing up there were topics that were taboo even at the dinner table.  And in public?  Well, no ma’am.  I then happened upon an article posted by a friend on Facebook.

The article talks about college admissions officers using Facebook in evaluating students desiring to attend their institution.  You can see it for yourself here. Basically it talks about the fact that admissions officers are reviewing profiles and letting the information found there help guide them.  Is the student a good fit for the college?  If it’s a challenging academic program and your Facebook profile is full of parties and social occasions, they may decide not.  Some also talked about how Facebook can help admissions offices decide between two seemingly equivalent candidates.  It can work in your favor, if your profile highlights your good side, or against you if it does not.

So what does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that you would be well advised to ensure that your controls are firmly in place.  Don’t post pictures of last night’s partying.  Because remember, nothing ever dies on the internet.  But is it just about partying?  Not at all.  Young folks today would do well to remember that the people who will be responsible for admitting them into colleges and making hiring decisions are likely to check out any and all publicly available information on them. Do you google yourself?  You should, because potential employers will (El 3atal had a business meeting recently.  When he entered it was clear that the person he met had checked him out online… which is good since El 3atal had made a similar search).  And while your friends may not see anything wrong in some of the content and thoughts that you post, remember that they aren’t in hiring and admitting positions.  So, when you’re in charge (if you haven’t found your thoughts on the topic changed significantly) you may discount what you see on a Facebook profile.  But, today it’s your parents (and even their parents) who are in charge and they simply don’t see the world the way you do.

Even folks who are a bit older seem to have lost the concept of using the right media to communicate information.  I saw yesterday that an acquaintance notified the world (and her soon-to-be-former spouse?) that she as dissatisfied with her marriage and was asking for a divorce.  Really, is this information that you want everyone to know?  Is this how you should tell them such private information.  Because no matter what your settings, nothing on the internet is ever really, certifiably private.  So, if you, like another friend, find yourself having issues with your spouse, talk about them in real life, not on Facebook.  And if you do decide to spread the news via Facebook, expect that everyone will want to know what’s going on.  After all, you took something that should be very private and made it openly public.  Oh, and as a potential employer, if I checked out your Facebook profile and saw that you tended to gossip about friends, talk about people, and communicate your private details via Facebook… I’d think twice and then thrice before hiring you.  Because if nothing in your personal life is private, why should I expect my business to be?  As for me, I think discretion may just need to be the new watchword…

Happy Indiscretions!


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