Abigail Brosnan Staff Writer
A lot of people today use their Facebooks as a type of online “journal”, stating whatever comes to mind (no matter how rash it may be), and posting photographs of everything they do. When employers and their staff are exposed to each other’s private thoughts and photographs (which could potentially be inap- propriate), the work relationship may begin to disintegrate, leaving an unsuitable friendship between an employer and their employee, due to several reasons. Employees don’t usually ponder anything negative regarding a Facebook friendship with their employers, they just seek to friend request them so they can check out what they are like outside of work. It’s interesting to inquire such things, because people aren’t necessarily as they seem. Some employees just add their em- ployers to have an additional way to contact them in case they need to, which is fine, but e-mail would be a more professional way of doing so.
Some people view employee-employer Facebook friendships in a more positive way. Nicole Piro, freshman Math Education major, said, “I think that it’s okay for them [employees and their bosses] to be friends on Face- book because it can give more of a personal and friendly connection between the two.” This is a valid opinion, and a possibility, depending on the maturity level of the people involved, and what is being posted online. It gets messy, however, when one party begins to lose sight of the real- ity of their relationship, which should be maintained on a pro- fessional and work-based level.
When people are exposed to their employers in a more “natural” light, such as being friends on Facebook, their respect level has a higher chance of decreasing. By letting their employees’ treat or view them as a “friend”, it may subconsciously cause the employee to feel as though they don’t have to answer to the boss. This alters the balance between authorities and not, which may ultimately effect the cooperation of staff members. Once coopera- tion weakens, so does the com- pany/business. Employees will begin to slack and fool around, thinking it’s acceptable because they’re “friends” with their man- agers, and this could portray the company as unprofessional and inefficient.
These same negative ef- fects apply to when Professors, or even high school and middle school teachers, become Facebook friends with their students. Giving students the ability to key into their professor’s social life warps the correspondence of the classroom relationship, seeing their instructors as an “equal” rather than their superior.
I feel that it is less common for professors to befriend their students on Facebook in com- parison to employers accepting their employees’ friend requests, but even so it does happen. When I was in high school, a student stumbled upon one of my teach- ers’ Facebooks online. His profile picture that was displayed was inappropriate, featuring a mirror picture of himself without a shirt on. Although he wasn’t accepting students’ friend requests, per se, his reputation as a teacher was negatively impacted. Students didn’t view him as a professional, and therefore didn’t take him seriously.
It seems to be more common for people to become Facebook friends with their bosses. This even comes up in conversation with my coworkers at Abercrombie and Fitch from time to time, and the concept appears outlandish. Work and Facebook just don’t seem to mix. Some people see it as an opportunity to develop friendlier relation- ships with their authoritative figures, but does having them on Facebook cross a line? This is a common occurrence in part-time jobs for high school and college students, which isn’t such a big deal as they aren’t typically careers (stabilizing adult payments and lasting for a significantly larger number of years) for the employees, but are simply their outlet to gain experience and/or personal profit. Managers, on the other hand, do not benefit from losing their sense of leader- ship. In the real world, depend- ing on the business and sophistication of the workers, I don’t believe it to be colloquial that these Facebook relationships
are acceptable. It’s vital to know your place at work is distinctly incomparable to that of your social life, and that they belong separated.