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Sep 27 2011

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Airing one’s dirty laundry takes new meaning

By James J. Jackson

As a father and grandfather, I am well aware that young people, more often than not, will discount the counsel of their elders as irrelevant, naïve, and ‘old-fashioned’- certainly not something to apply to their lives. Often, they will listen to and trust other entities, such as TV, friends, the Internet, etc. more than an old ‘fuddy-duddy’.  Hopefully, some of their more trusted resources will now speak to them about the dangers of unbridled use of social media.
I regularly try to warn young people (and even some not-so-young people who should know better), that pouring out their hearts and closest secrets (and, even compulsive-obsessive disorders) to the world via Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube, etc., is not very practical, safe or smart. I often asked them to consider the future. What if they applied for a highly confidential position that requires the applicant to be level-headed, in control of themselves, rational, etc?  A job screener checking the applicant’s Facebook or other social media, would consider the ranting and raving of a young person who was temporarily out of control of his or her senses alarming.
One young lady, following a messy break-up with her boyfriend, posted her thoughts and feelings, even the fact that she had momentarily considered suicide, on Facebook. I advised her that, one day, when this young man is nothing more than a bad memory, she may find herself vying for a job with the FBI, Secret Service, or some other position of high trust. Her Facebook entries would surely doom her to failure.
USA Today reports (September, 2011), “The number of admissions officials using Facebook to learn more about an applicant has quadrupled in the past year.”  While some colleges refuse to use social media  as a tool to determine an applicant’s worthiness for admissions, like Kenyon College Dean, Jennifer Delahunty, who states,  “We are trying to practice ethical admissions”… Reading their Facebook pages is like, in another era, wire-tapping applicant’s phones and reading their diaries.”  Many other institutions have no such ethical restraints.  They believe that, just like with a diary, people should keep their innermost thoughts out of the public domain. If you published your diary in the newspaper, it would be difficult to fault a prospective Dean or employer for reading it and applying the contents in their decision to admit or hire you.
A survey, conducted by Kaplan Test Prep revealed that it is becoming a common practice to search social networking sites to see if the applicant has been involved in such practices as underage drinking, drug use, vulgarities, posting inappropriate photos, etc.  Many believe blogs and other social media give them an in-depth look into the character of the applicant, and may show them whether the applicant is someone they want to include in their school or company.
Many people are involved in juvenile ‘indiscretions’ that they will later regret and would love to take back. The downside of publishing anything about one’s self is that, once it is published, it is out of the writer’s control. It ‘lives’ forever, and is nearly impossible to explain after maturity and common sense have moved into one’s life.
I have deleted people, even relatives, from my Facebook because they (or their friends) repeatedly used foul language or chatted about inappropriate themes. In the future, I will simply send such people a copy of the USA Today article, and hope, as my parents often told me, “ A word to the wise is sufficient”.
The Bible tells us, “The wise in heart accepts advise, but a chattering (chatting??) fool comes to ruin.”  I was also taught, “Don’t air your dirty” laundry.

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