Is social media ruining our future job propects?
Google boss Eric Schmidt warned this week that when they grow up, many young people will want to change their names to dissociate themselves from the activities and revelations they splashed across the web as they were growing up.
With the growing trend of social networking membership, what is or is not acceptable to put online is changing. One in 13 people on the planet are now part of Facebook’s 500 billion monthly users.
Facebook’s latest venture is ‘Places’ which lets you tell your friends where you are. Foursquare and Gowalla already do this. What’s more, you have to opt-out of the new feature by unticking a box in your profile settings, rather than choose to opt-in.
The real concerns about allowing so much information about yourself to be online are that fraudsters could steal your identity, burglars may know when you’re not at home, and perhaps a potential employer will see your latest drunken Saturday night photos on the web and decide you are not a suitable employee after all.
But in the future, social networking might have become so commonplace that people will be suspicious if they can’t find anything about you on the web. Who are you? What have you done?
After all, one hundred years ago (and much less in some places) everyone knew everybody else in their village. They knew their names, what their job was, who they were related to. Is this so far removed from social media today?
As Julian Baggini from the independent.co.uk puts it:
“The recklessness of youth is not what it used to be.
“Whereas previous generations panicked about knife-wielding teddy boys, sexually lascivious rockers, drug-fogged hippies, heroin-injected inner-city youths and drunken town centre rabbles, now the concern is that the kids are not appropriately discreet in their data handling. I’d like to have heard The Who write a song about that.”
Personally I do use a slightly different name in personal social media, one my friends would know, to the one I would use for work. This is not because I have anything to hide, but so I can keep two halves of my life separate! However if you have a more common name your worries about potential employers discovering a murky past could be far fewer.