A Generation of Oversharers Joins the Workforce

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So…here’s the thing.

I am a big fan of social networking. Huge. Some might call me an addict. Facebook. Twitter. The internet in general. You don’t spend your time blogging, tweeting, and updating all day if you’re not a fan of the internet. But even I have to admit that sometimes being a product of the Facebook generation has its faults.

Just look at what happened to Natalie Munroe, the Central Bucks High School English teacher, who was suspended after posting degrading comments about her students on a personal blog. And now, she’s all over the internet, and not in a good way. Munroe posted the comments over a year ago, but the blog was recently discovered when someone posted it on a Facebook page and eventually one of the parents turned it into the school.

Munroe claims that she never imagined that anyone would actually read what she wrote. But they did. And now she’s one of the biggest stories of the week. The blog has since been taken down. But the quotes and comments still live on. And that’s the most important part to remember, I think, for our generation, at least.

We’re a generation of oversharers (and if you think you’re not, think again). We lack boundaries. People post about everything from their bathroom habits to their sexcapades without giving it a second thought. But what happens when someone reads that comment about your horrible boss and shows it to said horrible boss? Or when you tell your friend you’re home sick and then post pictures of yourself with your boyfriend two hours later? How many times do you update your Facebook a day? Probably more than you realize. We do it without even thinking about it. Everything that happens has to be shared. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what we do. But now we need to think about how what we do on the internet will affect what we do in real life.

Last year, a recent college grad took the day off from work and told his boss he had a funeral to attend. (I’d link you but Gawker seems to have misplaced their search function.) But later that day he posted pictures of himself at a party. His boss found out, and naturally he was fired. And yes, he shouldn’t have lied to begin with, but had he thought enough not to post the pictures on the internet, he might have been able to avoid losing his job over playing hooky like we’ve all done at least once.

The number of people you have the capability to Facebook stalk? That’s the amount of people that have the capabilities to Facebook stalk you. Even though we post for people to read, we sometimes forget that people read what we post. And not just during that second that we post, but for weeks, months, and years after. What gets posted on the internet stays on the internet. Especially when it isn’t locked. If you have a public blog, you have a public blog, and anyone can read it whenever they want to. And they will read it; both the people you’re sharing it with and the people you never even thought about.

And that’s something that our generation has to learn to recognize as we move forward, out of college and into the workforce.  Social networking is a great tool, and we’re lucky to have been born into a world on the brink of this technology. But our generation as a whole needs to find a way to use these tools to our advantage without ending up in the same situation as Natalie Munroe. Can we curb our virtual word vomit? Lock our tweets? Cut our Facebook friends? Fight the urge to share everything with everyone? And stop blogging about things that can get us fired?

Let’s start a blog post and discuss…

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