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.
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.
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?