Online Records

A couple of days ago, my dad wrote me an e-mail to tell me that I should be careful about what I post online because the CBC (he didn't specify if it was radio or television) did a story about how some young guy was supposed to get a job, but at the last minute his future employers Googled his name and found his blog, the contents of which were not consistent with the beliefs of the company. The end result was that this young chap wasn't hired. The point of my dad telling me about this was that I should be careful of what I post online. While my initial response was to tell him that if anyone found what I wrote online and didn't want to hire me because of it, then I probably wouldn't want to work for them still feels valid.

The kneejerk reaction is that no one should ever post anything even remotely personal or controversial online in case a potential employer were to find it. However, I don't think that this whole matter is an argument about the permanence of one's online record and the differences between online and offline lives and reputations.

No, it is much more simple than that. It is a matter of relevance.

Techdirt has an excellent example, in which they recount the story of a chef who had a job interview online in second life. Apparently, much of the candidate's time was spent figuring out how to navigate the virtual world. These are skills that have nothing to do with managing a kitchen, no matter how obtuse you want to get.

To put a bit of a more meat-space spin on it, its like if you had a job interview with company on a Thursday, and you felt it went rather well. You wore a nice suit for the interview, spoke well, and generally had the right experience for the job. All is rather well until Friday night when you are out celebrating with your friends. You might be wearing your favorite t-shirt, you might not have shaved before going out that night, and you might have had a few beers. How would you feel if the person who interviewed you showed up at the bar, clipboard in hand, to tsk-tsk your behavior? You'd probably think "What the fuck are they doing here? This has nothing to do with what my job would be..." and you'd be absolutely right to think that. As long as one's social life doesn't interfere or cross over into the workplace (example, showing up hungover all the time), it shouldn't be an issue.

The exact same thing holds true for online activities, and I've got nothing more to say on the subject. If anyone else does, I would love to hear it.