Three days into my first big, important job, I was called into my manager’s office for a ‘chat.’ Someone had stumbled across my MySpace account and shared with my entire team a post about how frightened I was to be managing people far more experienced than I.
THREE DAYS! I didn’t even know where the second floor toilets were and I’d already been scuppered by MySpace.
I’m a millennial, the first generation to grow up with computers in their house and social networking as standard. It’s my generation who normalised the trade in privacy for mass, global communication.
We’re also the ones who invented oversharing, social neediness and the humble brag. We publicise our fears, frustrations and eff-ups. We invented personal branding.
We’re also the first generation to hire staff on their Instagram accounts
Looking for a social media #intern at @WiredUK starting next week // Send a link of your Instagram account at XXX@condenast.co.uk.
And we’re the first to be sacked for it as well.
None of this is wrong, it’s just new. Not only trends but fresh behaviours and ways of thinking are created at warp speed. Living our lives, and building our careers online means simultaneously creating and negotiating this social maze.
It’s not surprising we make mistakes.
Many of us have a social media horror story to tell. Some elicit a wince – like them time @shennners mis-tweeted ‘I HATE EVERYONE’ from her work profile. Others are far more troubling; like the back-footedness my MySpace update created. I lasted 12 months in that first important job, but never possessed the authority or confidence I felt capable of.
What is impossible to track are the missed opportunities. How many CVs have been binned with one swift google of your name? Who knows how your statuses and selfies will be read by the people with the power to hire and fire.
It’s not possible to create a universally appealing online profile. What one person reads as safe is bland to another, just as one person’s ‘quirky’ is another person’s ‘crazy.’ The only option appears, as usual to be yourself and hope for the best.
It seems social media may not be all that different to the real world after all.