Last year it was a partying, under-aged Miss USA who caused the media fuss, only to be rescued by Donald Trump and sent to rehab. I love fairy tales, don’t you?
Now the story centers on Miss New Jersey and some “unladylike” pictures once posted on Facebook — pictures that, for a day or two, threatened to end the career of another beauty queen.
In the scheme of things, Amy’s PR problems were pretty mild. The board of the Miss America pageant is giving her a pass and letting her move on to compete in Atlantic City. Rightfully so, as the photos were pretty tame stuff by today’s standards.
So here it is again — one more example of social network content biting someone in the ass — or in Amy’s case, the breast. The pictures in question were posted on someone else’s Facebook page. But no matter. They showed her in “unladylike” poses that sound more funny than risque.
Some of those students have cleaned up their online profiles, but others continue to act as though the online world of social networks is a separate reality. Every student I know has cranked up his or her privacy settings to keep out the voyeurs, but if you have a large network of “friends,” those privacy settings are easily compromised. Copies of photos are easily passed along, then passed along again.
The hazards of Facebook have now spread beyond the college campus. Now that FB is open to the masses, working stiffs — including a lot of PR professionals — are flocking to the site. And that carries with it a new set of concerns.
The issue came to my attention last week when a feed from one of my young FB friends (a former student) announced a new “friend” who happens to be the CEO of her company. Cool, I thought. One of our social-media-savvy grads is bringing senior professionals into the loop — spreading the “conversation” as it were.
Then I came across this item from Monday’s WSJ. It displays the downside of office relationships on Facebook.
It’s the story of 24-year-old Paul Dyer and his angst over a “friend” invitation from his boss. What’s a subordinate to do? Do you reject the boss and risk on-the-job reprisal? Or do you accept the invitation and risk exposing your online persona to a superior and maybe others.
Of course, you could clean up your act and turn your online profile vanilla. But then you’d be boring, and what fun is that?
In the story, WSJ columnist Jared Sandberg suggests that social networks should remain social. It seems the old axiom — don’t mix business with pleasure — might still be good advice. But in a Web 2.0 world is that separation realistic or even possible?
A successful presence in social media, such as Facebook or even this blog, requires that you be a bit of an exhibitionist. Modesty in an online profile is boring. Staid blog posts are even worse. If you want to stand out in the online world, you have to be little outrageous.
There’s no better example of this online exhibitionism than Steve Crescenzo’s Corporate Hallucinations blog. Steve let’s it all hang out there, sometimes even literally, but it works. His blog is funny, and it’s well read.
So how do we strike the balance between our professional and personal lives in Web 2.0? Or can we?