This week, I asked readers if they had an active account on a social networking site.
Most (53.1%) of this week’s respondents said they had no such account, and about 15% said that while they had an account, it was not “active.” That left 22% who said they did have an account – and about one-in-ten who said they had more than one.
The most common membership was with LinkedIn (one-in-three of those who had an account), with ClassMates.com, MySpace and Facebook cited by 20%, 19%, and 16%, respectively.
I also asked if respondents had actually used a social networking site to check someone out – for a work-related purpose, or socially. Most (61%) had not. Though, one surely can’t be too careful. As one reader noted, “It is amazing what people will put on the Internet when they think there is some measure of anonymity. It is even more amazing that people will put things on a MySpace page that has their NAME on it.” And there were these responses from some who had done some checking:
“Didn’t find anything that would change the original impression from resume and interview.”
“My friend was stranger than I had ever known.”
“I “google” everyone…but have not stepped up to these sites. Perhaps a sign of age…or lack of time.”
“I wouldn’t even know how to check someone out on one of those sites. I’m sure my daughters would, though.”
“Tried to, but not having an account with the site made it difficult. Guess I’m too old – asked my assistant to do it.”
“It’s interesting the details some people post about their life while others set their profile to “private”. Just browsing you can definitely learn a lot of interesting things on these sites.”
And at least one cautionary note: “One should not believe all they see.”
This week's verbatims tended to group into one of two categories; the first was those who had an account that they used to keep an eye on kids or grandkids:
"Back in the days of Xanga.com, my kids all had pages on that website. I thought they were spending too much time on it, so I got a Xanga page and started sending them messages like "Do your homework!" and "I love you - Daddy". They immediately dropped it. Now that they have Facebook pages, they won't acknowledge me as friends! I guess I'll have to actually TALK to them now...."
My husband and I look in at our 15 year old daughter's MySpace friends and the things they are talking about and linked to. We have required that she disconnect her link to a few acquaintences whose MySpace sites contained sexually explicit materials and potentially character damaging photos and comments. We explained that when she applies for jobs next year, potential employers may look up her My Space site and links. The addage, "You only get one chance to make a first impression" is important in all aspects of life. She has also refused some schoolmates who wanted her to link to their pages, and we encourage her to be very selective in the friends she chooses in person and online.
"I have a Facebook account. Only "friends" are allowed to view my information, and I don't intend on making "friends" with any co-workers."
"I did check out my own children's sites to make sure they did not have anything posted that might hurt their job hunting."
"At least once a year, I run a "google" on my name. Apparently, my alter ego is an acclaimed artist frequenting cutting edge art circles. It's so nice to know one of us can be creative."
"I live vicariously through my wife's Facebook page!"
"My husband and I look in at our 15 year old daughter's MySpace friends and the things they are talking about and linked to. We have required that she disconnect her link to a few acquaintences whose MySpace sites contained sexually explicit materials and potentially character damaging photos and comments. We explained that when she applies for jobs next year, potential employers may look up her My Space site and links. The addage, "You only get one chance to make a first impression" is important in all aspects of life. She has also refused some schoolmates who wanted her to link to their pages, and we encourage her to be very selective in the friends she chooses in person and online."
"My daughter-in-law (whom we adore) set us up on a site, however we have never used it other than look at it once. It was done so that we could be part of their site. However, when I went to their site I really saw more than I wanted to and it was embarrassing to me because it was my son and his wife (20 somethings). Luckily for me, they moved on to another site and I never again asked them to set me up on that site. I realize that my opinion is a reflection of my age. I also spare my friends and family from receiving any long, self-indulgent(i.e boring) Christmas letter."
"I periodically look at my daughters' sites to make sure they don't have anything inappropriate on them. So far, they've been good."
The second category; those who didn't have an account, and weren't in a hurry to change that status:
"Good Lord Nevin, I'd never have an account on this type of site. I'm much better looking/nicer/smarter/skinnier/more accomplished on paper and in person. Ha!"
"These are all blocked sites from work. Would have to do this from home, and who has time to do that?"
"Good grief! How in the heck would I have time at work to spend in a site like that? And when I get home, the last thing I want to do is go on-line. I guess that's a no.
"You wouldn't write a serious research paper using Internet sources, so why consider a job candidate the same way? My resume says I have a music degree, and if you want to know more about my personal interests for business reasons, you can ask in a business context."
And those that - well, I'll let them speak for themselves:
"This survey makes me feel old... and I'm 36."
"I barely know what a social networking site is, let alone have an account. Does this mean that I am getting old?"
Then there was this interesting observation (an honorary Editor's Choice): "A few months ago, a student from my alma mater contacted me for some career advice. We spoke by phone and I 'friended' him on Facebook. A few weeks later, I noticed that his profile photo was now a naked man lying on a dorm room bed, thankfully contorted for modesty. When I asked what the hell he was thinking, he thanked me for letting him know--a friend had changed his picture as a prank! Good thing I wasn't an employer."
But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said, "With working 10 hours a day, I don't have time to maintain an active social life, let alone an active social networking site!"
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
Just over half ( 54.6% ) of this week's respondents said their workplace would be open on Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), though nearly 45% will have the day off.
For the record, we're in the latter group!