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Counterpoint on Social Media

Krista Francis, a fellow contributing writer over at Women of HR, posted a blog recently on being authentic on social media.  She used the example of her friend, who was unafraid of giving TMI, and how at a certain level she was envious of her friend’s ability to show her real self on social media. She asked about whether it was OK to edit yourself.

I am a strong believer that you have to be yourself on social media.

That said, to be authentic to our profession, there is a certain decorum that has to be followed.

If you are bound by the HRPA Code of Conduct, and most of you are, you have to be careful to ensure you are acting in the interests of the profession.  I recently saw that there was a Canadian blogger out there who used profanity in his blog, indeed one of the seven words George Carlin made famous by exclaiming that they could not be uttered on television.  The long and the short of it, someone complained and it led to a professional standards investigation by the HRPA.  My understanding is that he was expected to apologize and remove the word from the post.

I’m not a perfect person, and I do not always have nice days.  I have employee issues, executives that won’t listen, policies that don’t work, typos, spreadsheets with circular errors, presentations that won’t boot, car trouble, and meetings I am late for.  Sometimes I have a spat with my husband.  Sometimes I’m in a bad mood because my dog has dissed me.   Sometimes I laugh at jokes that aren’t politically correct.  Sometimes I make disparaging statements about other drivers.  Sometimes I am sarcastic because I feel like it.   It would be unauthentic for me to write as if my whole world were puppy dogs and rainbows, but most of these things above I will never admit to in real time.

A few months ago, I used a quote from John Lennon, “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna’ make it with anyone anyhow”.

I don’t enjoy reading the posts of whiners.  I don’t like super nice people.  Non-gooey cheerfulness on Twitter is a joy to read.  Those are the people who I engage with.  If you’re going to be active on Twitter, keep this in mind.

I’m not trying to tell you how to behave, except to say that if you’re in the profession, you do have to act like a grown-up and behave “professionally”.  That is being authentic.  Find a center and balance that is right for you.

You can complain about the weather on Twitter, or the woman who cut you off on the QEW.

You can ask for advice about policies and processes on LinkedIn, preferably in groups.

You can post vacation pictures on Facebook, if you use Facebook for personal reasons and you’re careful about your privacy settings.

You just shouldn’t complain about your boss, or the harassment you witnessed, or the vendetta you plan to unleash on your worst enemy.

Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.


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