The Internet is a wonderful thing in many ways. It's also a terrible, horrible thing in many other ways, not least the fact that it eradicates your privacy and ability to juggle your job and your personal life. And, more often than not, get you fired. Speaking as a current tech writer and former human resources recruiter-monkey, I spent five years watching people get fired for utter stupidity. Here's how...
Photo credit: aubergene, Flickr
You may not have realized it, but you probably signed a form accepting the company's social media policy. The social media policy, no matter who wrote it, pretty much boils down to this: "say something, anything, bad whatsoever about your company, regardless of merit, and we will fire your ass so hard your cubicle will be a smoking crater."
This is for two reasons: one, to prevent worker complaints for going viral or being aggregated by those pesky journalists and two, to make sure the company is presented in a positive light at all times. They could be introducing the Sodomizer-O-Tron 9000 with Kidney Shanking Action, and they expect their employees to be gung-ho about it.
Ever hear about some poor shmuck getting fired for something in his private life he posted on Facebook? It happens all the time.
Granted, faking sick to go to a party or calling your boss an idiot and posting it on Facebook when your boss is your "friend" is pretty stupid. But unfortunately, in most states, your boss can fire you for seeing something on Facebook, even something that's straight up none of his business, and there's not much you can do about it.
Just ask the teacher who was suspended for taking a picture with a male stripper that she didn't even post to her Facebook, but someone else posted on theirs: you can get fired for just having a life people don't like. In fact, this happens to teachers a lot. Here's one who got fired for wearing a bikini near a camera and wound up working in porn, for example.
Here's another example you probably weren't expecting: you signed a non-disclosure agreement, and that applies to anything you do. Yes, even on Facebook.
This is actually one of the most common ways people get fired on line: they let a little too much slip about the project they're working on, and on Friday afternoon, they take a short walk to the boss' office.
The best time to find a job is when you already have one. That said, you need to do it discreetly; hide a suit in your cubicle, pass around your resume only to people you know will keep it under your hat, and, oh yeah, don't post to Facebook that you hate your job and are desperately looking for a new one.
It will amaze you how often this happens, but people mistake networking for "shouting from the rooftops" and it gets problematic, fast.
Part of the trouble with Facebook is that your work life and your personal life are going to intersect a bit: coworkers will friend you, and you have to return the favor, thus it involves restraining yourself, a little bit.
The problem is, Facebook fights tend to spill over into the real world, and some people have to drag work arguments into the personal sphere. So, be above it...or get a new job.
I could say "Doing things that are illegal," but let's face it, most of us know exactly what "illegal" acts will catch attention. If you actually post a photo of yourself stealing a car, all you have to do is make a goofy face and people will think it's staged. Skin-popping heroin is another matter entirely.
Again, it would stun you how many people do this, all the time, on a regular basis. We expect it from rock stars, even faded ones like Evan Dando, but I've had to put together "disciplinary packets" for guys who were doing bong rips at the family barbecue and posting it on Facebook. It's not hard. You don't even have to stop smoking whatever your smoke of choice is. Just don't post photos of you doing in on Facebook.
For all employers reading this, please note that this cannot be construed as detrimental to company policy, as Guyism.com was educating your workers about the perils of misbehaving on social media.
For our actual readers: come on, guys, you know your boss is tracking your Internet usage. Get back to work!
And by work we mean clicking these links.