Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let's Keep Facebook Fun, People

(Written as a guest blog for

You’ve seen it before.

You’re a little bored, you log into Facebook and your social networking buzz is quickly killed by the inevitable bad news update. Some examples:

Molly Jenkinson is hoping her hubby has better luck this week on the job hunt. Can’t take much more of him being home.

John Quimby
is hello Monday. You sure look a lot like Saturday and Sunday.

Paul Hatfield
is sad.

I’ve changed the names to protect the pathetic, but these are real posts I’ve seen along with countless other layoff laden updates that practically beg you for a condolence, or even to pry for more information.

That may be what’s on their mind, as Facebook so politely asks its users with every log in. But that query should be treated like someone asking how you’re doing. They don’t really want to know how you’re doing. It’s a courtesy. And the courteous response should be, “fine thanks,” or in the case of a Facebook status update, some witty variation thereof (I can even live with the non-witty updates, which are aplenty – those people just don’t know any better).

I understand that what I am witnessing is a sign of the times. In real time. I can even imagine these downtrodden folks thinking, “hey, I have a lot of friends in here. Maybe one of them can get me a job.” But nothing is less attractive than desperation. And nothing sounds more desperate to a potential employer, or several hundred of the people you’ve come to know throughout your life, than bemoaning your out-of-work status on Facebook.

As someone who recently lost their job, if only temporarily, I can tell you that the last thing I wanted all 356 of my “friends” to know is that I was laid off. Most of those people don’t even know what I do. It would be like putting on 60 pounds before my high school reunion and telling everyone I still live in my parents’ basement. "So, ah, if you want to come over and hang out later…"

Facebook is where I go to look up old girlfriends (or more accurately, girls I wished were girlfriends but they just wanted to be “friends”). It’s where I go to relive bad college haircuts, which may be why I could never get those girls. And occasionally, it’s where I go to see the odd status update from someone who never struck me as all that odd.

Facebook is also a great resource. And it should be used to your advantage when times are tough. But be tactic
al about it. Find the folks in your network who are in a similar field. Find out what they’re up to, who they know or what they can suggest. Better yet, sign up for LinkedIn where everyone’s looking for a new job.

And for the love of all that’s sacred, most especially your own personal dignity, please don’t tell me your troubles if we haven’t spoken in 15 years. I just don’t want to know.


David Y. said...

Awesome post. I couldn't agree more. Can we get Facebook to make this part of their new user agreement?

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree. I love the transparencies of everyday life that is witnessed in postings. Plus, I've been privy to real time info when a company is going down.

When the local paper laid off 82 people, 17 of them blogged about it. And the posts ran the gamut from "just lost my job" to "lots of doors closing around here. not sure what that means." I thought it was fascinating.

The thing is: you don't have to respond. You can just observe from far away and while I have over 300 friends, I know 7/8 of them aren't close friends. But I'm curious to know what they're doing and how they're doing.

Maybe I'm just nosey.

Lee said...

Personally, I like to hear real stories about real people. Why do we put up these false faces? If we're unemployed, I just say so! I spend all my time trying to get people to view the world differently. For instance, why are people paying their mortgages? In this economic crisis, shouldn't we eliminate that expense if we have it? The devil with the bailout-out banks.

Brad Hessel said...

Mr. Abraham,

You must be confusing Facebook and Myspace. I can see the sense in saying spreading the news about being fired would be inappropriate on Myspace. On Myspace, you work hard to construct an inauthentic fantasy image about yourself - usually designed to be attractive, as well as entertaining. Accordingly, I can see how you might argue that injecting any negative reality (aside from "romantic" risk-taking behavior) would be not only self-defeating, but anti-social.

(This is presuming there is anyone over 15 years old who is not in the music business still using Myspace, that is.)

Facebook, otoh, is all about who you are, and who your friends really are. Friends support friends in need. In most circumstances, therefore, it would be dishonest and anti-social NOT to share an event like being fired on Facebook.

I do agree with your advice about LinkedIn; were I in the market for a new job, I'd spend more time there than on FB.

subpixel said...

I think what you're really saying is you don't want to hear anything bad and you're only interested in someone if they are entertaining you.

Consider not having so many false friends, or intentionally restrict it to people who you can count on to feed you bs all the time keeping up appearances.