Myspace users beware of internet predators

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Posted Thursday, September 14, 2006 - 12:00am

In a mild attempt to not disappoint those whom may be expecting my usual anecdotes and clever use of word play that some may construe as goofiness, I have decided to open this with a joke. A guy walks into a therapy office. While the therapist is out, the guy takes off all his clothes and wraps himself completely in Saran wrap. The therapist comes back into the office, looks at the guy and says "well ... I can clearly see you're nuts".

That having been said, I need to address a serious issue that everybody should be aware of. For years the existing powers and every organization or group that likes to watch out for the general public and our safety have been warning us of something called Internet predators. As far as my understanding allows, I take this to mean a group of people seeking to harm myself and/or others. Be that physically, mentally, emotionally or otherwise, using the Internet as their means of appropriating a victim as it were. Most commonly this occurs in the realm of some form of sexual abuse, kidnapping, etc. of a young lady, or identity theft. People trying to find out something about you, me, or whoever in order to use this information, if not necessarily to harm, but to further their own selfish needs with no regard as to the impacts their actions have on the person(s) they are doing this to. The end result is that they end up negatively impacting the person that they have done this too, be that intentionally or unintentionally. In many cases going so far as to change people's lives forever.

Now we can add to this ever growing list of concern over the Internet our current and future employers.

I was informed not to long ago about a recent trend emerging in the professional world where potential employers, in addition to Google searches of an applicants or current employee's name, they also check peoples myspace, facebook and other similar online profiles and use them as a means of determining whether or not to hire a person.

In much the same way as any internet predator this can impact an innocent party in a negative manner.

A person may be left wondering what could have caused them to be passed over for a job. For those who may be wondering, I regret to say that it most likely has nothing to do with your ability, qualifications or even anything that is even remotely work related. It is because John Q. Employer doesn't like who you are when you are not working.

In defense of any employers, I must say that they do have the right to look after the interests of the company they represent and are in charge of finding new people to work at the company. They are looking for honest, hardworking people to fill a position to further the company's progress and, of course, make a profit. I am quite sure this is not so easy a task as one would wish it to be. Not only to find qualified people but people that will excel at the position and work with everybody to ensure the companie's future.

I am not disputing that, and as a matter or fact I encourage employers to do so and strive to make every effort to hire the best workers they can find. However they should stay away from Myspace, Facebook, Xanga and other sites as part of the screen http://media.urbandictionary.com/image/large/myspacetom-30378.jpg ing process. It is not in anybody's best interest to engage in these practices. If anyone is wondering how this may be the case allow me to shed light on the subject.

First of all, though these may be public forums and may be viewed by virtually anybody with Internet access, these profiles that people create are not meant for the purposes of gaining employment. Using them as a determining factor as to whether or not a person is employable is unfair both to the company and especially to the applicant. You may be passing by a top-notch employee for the simple reason that this person may like to do keg stands on the weekends while they are not at work. Perhaps they have a blog where they expressed a view some subject that an employer may not agree with or told a tale of their last trip to Las Vegas during which several tickets were issued, a few fights were started, some strippers lost their jobs and the mysterious disappearance of several midgets and an ostrich.

Basically what that comes down to is that people do not use these sights as a means of finding employment so therefore they should not be used in the employment screening process. I use myspace on a regular basis, but do not use it for work related activities. I get on it for the social aspect of it to either keep up with friends who live far away or to make new friends. I use it to learn new dirty jokes and make fun of my friends over something that happened last night or the night before, etc. It is an entertainment tool used by not only myself, but many others as a means to express creativity, their personality or just to find someone to hang out with this weekend among other things.

Now notice that I said nothing about working or finding a new job or any other related activity. As stated earlier, that is not what these online communities are for unless you specifically state that you are trying to use these mediums as a means to obtain or further a career. Most who use myspace and facebook, etc. do not. Quite to the contrary. What it comes down to is that the person we are at work is not the same person we are when we come home or when we go on vacation. If that were the case, there would be a great deal more suicides in this country.

Most people are one way at work and another while not at work. In the majority of these cases, those two personas may not be all that different. In other words, a person may come home, take off their business suit, throw on some Dickies and a T-shirt and hit the street in search of some form of mild mischief. But no matter what they do people realize that when they are at work, depending on what your job is and where one may be employed, they are expected to behave in a professional manner. The majority of people do so exceedingly well. But to expect anybody to adhere to this conduct outside of the workplace is absurd. If people choose to do so of their own accord that is all perfectly well, but if a person chooses to unwind in a manner others may not agree with they should not be punished for it.

I, along with the rest of society, have a God given, not to mention constitutional, right to behave in a manner of our choosing. To be judged for it and then told that one may not be hired or even terminated from their position, is in direct violation of those rights. Not to mention the fact that if people are afraid to express themselves through these mediums because they believe it will affect their professional life it will succeed in, to a certain extent, removing an aspect of their individuality. Nobody should subject to that sort of scrutiny and fear for their very well being because some close-minded people in a position of authority doesn't like the way they act while going about their personal lives.

A person's personal life is just that, personal, and nobody else's business but their own. Whether or not they make it a public matter by posting it on myspace or some other online community is their choice. No employer has the right to make a judgement about an applicant by using these mediums as a source. Just stick to the facts about person's work history and other qualifications or lack thereof.

The message they are sending is that no matter how qualified a person is, they could be passed over for a job because of who they are. This is wrong. The way people act outside of the work environment should not have any affect on what goes on in the work place unless it inhibits one's ability to do the job they were hired for.

So just let us be who we are and don't punish us for what we believe or how we act. We go to work and do our jobs just as you ask. None of us come up to an employer and say "well, I was going to finish that project for you but found out that you like to put laxatives in your mother-in-laws oatmeal. Not to mention the fact that you don't wash your hands when you use the restroom." Pretty ridiculous isn't it. Well that goes both ways. Just think about it. You may be passing up a person with tremendous potential for the simple fact that they engage in an activity you may not agree with.

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