I made a mistake recently.

Someone in Facebook posted this poster for a social dating event in Hong Kong, which was like any other dating/networking event… except this one was blatantly designed for Asian girls to meet white guys. White guys get to attend and eat for free, and meet Asian girls who have paid a lot of money for a dinner just to meet white guys like them.

So anyway, I reposted this poster on my wall and tagged some of my ex-colleagues who happen to be white guys in Singapore, along with the line “You guys need to get your asses to Hong Kong for free food and easy Asian girls”. I tease them about coming to Asia to hook up with Asian girls all the time, so this was merely an extension to that ongoing joke.

Except one of them got annoyed.

I’m pretty sure he knew I was joking, and he knows I don’t mean to offend, but he felt that it wasn’t right to tag him to something like that and possibly mislead his friends and family into thinking that he was gunning for “easy Asian girls”. Obviously he wanted me to delete the post.

Which I did immediately, after apologizing to him and clarifying that I meant no offense and that it was just a joke, albeit one that he didn’t think was particularly amusing.

The whole issue resonated with me, and I was thinking about it long after everything was settled. I thought about my own feelings on the matter, and how much it conflicted with his philosophy.

Personally, I’m really used to getting a lot of crap from my friends, in Facebook or otherwise. It’s just the way we are, and honestly, by tagging him in the photo, it was kind of like saying: “I’m going to make you a butt of this joke because I think you’re a pretty alright guy.” I mean, I wouldn’t tag someone I didn’t like in a joke like this, because I wouldn’t want anything to do with that person in the first place.

But that’s my view, and I guess I could’ve refused to delete the post or debated this with him – but I didn’t. Because what right do I have to enforce my own Facebook etiquette on him, right? It’s going to appear on his wall after all. And at the end of the day, what is it worth to me? A cheap laugh?

Then recently, I was talking to a friend who holds the absolute opposite philosophy: he just plain doesn’t give a damn about what other people think of him, and thinks that it’s stupid to base your life around the viewpoint of others, especially Facebook friends.

He stresses that it really doesn’t matter even if the general consensus is that you come across as a jerk on Facebook, because your real friends (and ultimately yourself) will know the real you and that’s all that matters. And yes, he occasionally comes across as a jerk on Facebook.

That all really depends on what kind of Facebook user you are, right? Maybe if you only have a Facebook account to check up on your friends’ posts and pictures, it really doesn’t matter how you come across to the people on your Facebook friends list because the Facebook realm is not a big concern.

Are you a Facebook stalker?

But for me, I have a lot of people on Facebook. This extends beyond just friends and family, but also colleagues (and by extension ex-colleagues), clients, potential recruiters, so forth.

I have these people on my Facebook because I think that continually interacting with them, even if it’s just occasionally, is a good way of reminding people that you’re still alive and around, and available for work if they happen to need someone with my skills.

Sure there are other social networks out there like LinkedIn which are more specific to professional needs. But while not everyone is on LinkedIn, pretty much everybody is on Facebook.

Thus, my Facebook reputation is pretty important to me, because I don’t want any potential business dealings to be hampered by the impression that I’m a negative creep that brings everyone down with constant bitching. I’m sure that this is true for a lot of other people as well, especially those whose work overlaps with social networks.

My seemingly-negative Facebook-jerk friend despises the concept of censoring yourself and crafting a fake personality on Facebook, just to entice random people to like you. He thinks it’s insincere, and borderline fraudulent.

But in my opinion, it is not dissimilar to only allowing one side of your personality come across. For example, only showing your bitchy side is equally prevaricative, and will only impact your Facebook reputation in a negative manner.

What is your Facebook reputation like?

Who do you have on your Facebook? Is your friends list comprised purely of close friends and relatives? Or does your work life and Facebook life overlap?

And if that’s the case, how do you make sure that you maintain your Facebook reputation in an appropriate manner?


About Drew

I love videogames, movies, my wife and my dog (in no particular order).

15 responses »

  1. I can’t believe those type of events occur in HK! that’s funny…..

    • drewpan says:

      Yeah tell me about it. I know in places like HK and Singapore, there’s still the notion that the girl with a white boyfriend is like the first kid in school to get an Xbox… but this is just a bit too blatant, right?

  2. The quickest way to be defriended by me is to tag me without my permission. I absolutely hate that, and it’s part of the reason why Facebook and I are now going through divorce proceedings.

  3. meladjusted says:

    Facebook is only one facet of our multifaceted lives and quite frankly I yam what I ham!

    My friends list comprises of acquaintances and people I knew from way back when – I’ve lived all over the world over the past 15 years and I like to keep in touch, colleagues, clients, family – distant and close. School and Varsity buddies and I suppose my greatest shame would be my Sims friends – it’s a nasty immature addiction but it’s cleaner and healthier than smoking and so is barely tolerated by my nearest and dearest. I do temper my updates – no profanity, no laughing at the expense of others but I do post the occasional offensive Blunt Card and of course I push my blog – but not too hard.

    doesn’t matter what you do though – ‘cos’ you can’t please all of the people all the time. If I’m blocked or deleted as result of any of my expressed views my philosophy is ‘their loss’.

    I do think they need to change the term ‘friend’ – not all 650 odd people are necessarily my bosom buddies but I wouldn’t delete them to only have friends because you got to keep your enemies close and your frenemies closer eh?

    • drewpan says:

      Well, I guess that’s why they have those lists and privacy settings now. You can put people into groups like “acquaintances” and “limited profile”, so that’s a logical place to plonk all these people that you kinda know but don’t really know, but still know enough not to delete them from Facebook.

      And the Sims is a great game! I’m not sold on the Facebook version, but I played the crap out of Sims 1 and 2, and a bit of 3. Have you seen my mini-essay on The Sims?

  4. paralaxvu says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, because I’m older and much more cynical than I used to be, perhaps I’m paranoid, whatever. I don’t like Facebook. I phone and email the friends and relatives I want to keep in touch with, and I blog when I have a rant or something else I want to say. Facebook to me is like living in a giant shopping mall where you can close the doors at night but everyone can still see in. I’m really too old to care about what others think of me, but I wouldn’t want to be tagged or have my photo put on a site without my permission. I think you did the moral thing. I think there’s too much “I can do it so I’m going to do it” going around instead of “what’s the honorable thing to do.” We have a responsibility to ourselves if to no one else, to be honorable persons….

    • drewpan says:

      I applaud you for phoning and emailing friends that you keep in touch with, I really do.

      Year after year, my New Year’s Resolutions will include “keep in touch with friends” but it just gets so difficult with a hectic lifestyle of too much work and family commitments.

      Facebook for me is a way to bridge the connection a little… it cannot ever replace a phone call or even an email, but it does prevent friendships from totally dying away. I guess it’s also how you use it. Clicking “Like” and reposting cute pictures of cats or babies isn’t exactly keeping in touch.

  5. Alvin says:

    It’s pretty important to me for the reasons you list – I don’t just have family, but also friends and colleagues, even some young cousins in my Facebook, so I can’t just blatantly share anything and everything.

    I suppose it helps because I’m more conservative; I don’t like to share too much online. There’s just too much to consider when you think how the internet doesn’t forget, and who knows how long Facebook will be around (I do think it would be pretty cool if FB still exists when I’m a grandpa and the grand-kids can look at how I spent my mild youth).

    Do you think this is something only people of our generation, who grew up with Web 1.0, would consider though? I look at some of the young ‘uns FB accounts and cringe at how much they do share.

    • drewpan says:

      I don’t think I’m a particularly conservative guy… a bit paranoid sometimes, but not overly conservative. But I definitely don’t feel the natural instinct to take a photo of every meal I eat and upload it to the Internet either.

      My in-laws won’t even create an AppleID because it requires their credit card details and they’re too paranoid to share that.

      On the flipside, I think it is great that kids share a lot, because sharing promotes content creation. Why create something that nobody sees, right? So I see all this creativity in home-made videos and stuff that I don’t think really existed in such quantities during our time.

      That’s the good part… the bad part is when they just shamelessly camwhore themselves and put up utter rubbish in an attempt to get more online recognition and infamy. Oh well, it’ll bite them in the ass someday.

  6. Addie says:

    I have blogger friends, hometown friends, school friends, colleagues and former colleagues, family and relatives, and their spouses and one-day old children on my Facebook.

    I’m a self-confessed Facebook addict. Heck, I’m online even at work. I post just about anything under the sun – anything that I think are pretty interesting and if that’s not their thing, I totally respect that, and more power to them. And in like manner, they post on my wall and tag me stuff that they think I might be interested in. If I’m not interested there’s always the “remove from profile” option.

    Those friends, who I know like to post stuff that’s going on in their lives, like, every second (their breathing patterns and the likes, are being hid from my dashboard. Now I can live comfortably.

    Facebook offers lots of options.

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