Complaining about work on social media is like farting in an elevator. You can't escape the fact that you did it.
One morning I switched on my computer to find this series of status updates at the top of my Facebook (Fb) Newsfeed:
- My boss calls me while I shower, she calls while I brush my teeth and pack my lunch, then I am trying to drive and she calls me again, so I pull over and try to talk to her, but she screams at me and hangs up a few times without telling me why she is flipping out. "WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?!!!"…
- Two more days of being bludgeoned before the weekend arrives...in my next life I would prefer to have more choices...
- She's gotten into the habit of abusing me, but since she pays me I am not allowed to complain. I think I need to start going home and being unable to work when she treats me too badly, because this shit will kill me. Must take stand, to preserve so-called sanity...
This old friend of mine, Robin*, was obviously disgruntled and feeling trapped by her chosen work. So much that she had to vent on social media. I sent her a concerned message about her tirade. In the end I had to ask “...are you sure you want to voice your disdain for your boss/job on the world wide web?”
I felt that I had to respond to her. This woman is my friend, and I’ve seen the worst case scenario play out in two similar situations. Individuals, friends of mine, have lost jobs in their respective fields after badmouthing their direct supervisor or company on Facebook. One of these has not been able to get another position in his field.
A Little PerspectiveOf course, we should have the freedom to badmouth whomever we choose when speaking to individual peer networks. However, the internet is a complex arena where private conversation is concerned; Facebook doubly so:
If your privacy settings are set to only share your content with your peer network, you have a strong layer of protection from the rest of the web. But, ask yourself, “Do my ‘friends’ also protect their comments, shares, likes, and updates with the same settings?” Maybe some do, but definitely not all of them…
Once your friend comments on your negative work-related update, or shares it, it belongs to them and can appear to everyone who follows them. If they have an 'open’ profile then anyone who finds them on the internet can view their Fb activity—without even logging in!
To gauge whether you may potentially face negative repercussions at work answer this question, are any of your Fb friends also your coworkers, or close friends of your co-workers? If you’re not sure don’t risk your job by bitching unfettered on social media!
An Unforeseen RepercussionBack when I was in grad school, a fellow student was going through a stressful time at work. In Fb status updates she told the world daily, that she hated her boss, her job, coworkers, and the company.
On one occasion I even commented that she was being harsh. She didn't care, she had been interviewing regularly and was preparing to accept an offer. Our paths crossed again three years later. I was tasked with vetting graphic designer resumes for an open position in my company and this woman applied. The memory of those graphic rants about the past job jumped immediately to mind. How long would it take her to become disenchanted before social media mudslinging began? Could I trust her not to badmouth my organization and friends online? Could I risk unleashing her on my beloved organization? She did not get an interview.
Back to Robin…She immediately responded to my note with this: “Guess who doesn’t care…Maybe I will get fired….if she's not gonna pretend she's nice and reasonable, I'm not either.”
I get it, she hates her job and plans to be fired. She’ll have the opportunity to find another job—and hopefully have a more fulfilling experience. Hopefully, when she is back on the job market she won't be applying with or interviewing with anyone who has had to read these hyper-negative status updates about her current boss.
*Her name’s not Robin
Reprinted: Still relevant...updated from the original—to accommodate recent Fb privacy settings...