Oh, man. I saw a query on PR newswire asking for experts on Job Dangers of MySpace. You see, your future employer is watching. That drunken picture of you will soon destroy your career. You’ll be broken at age 21. Defeat. Loss. Despair. You’ll end up in a gutter, covered in your own filth, drunkenly belching unspeakable gasses as your last few brain cells think, “If only I hadn’t posted that picture…”
I’m not sure who’s the stupid one here: the journalist? the companies? It’s certainly not the teenagers.
This is reality.
Look, people, MySpace, Friendster, Twitter, and the online world are here. They just are. And people post things that historically (pre-2003) would rarely have been shared publicly. That doesn’t mean they weren’t going on, only that we didn’t discuss them. Remember divorce, pre-marital sex, etc.? Once illegal, immoral, and hush-hush, now characters on TV lie in bed, steamy from orgasm, deciding whether to exchange first names. You can blame it on the secular humanists, or an erosion of values (whose? the conservative-owned media like FOX that produces and airs the stuff? that’s a fun twist!), but actually, the market—that’s us viewers—knows it’s real life, accepts it, and likes to watch.
This is irrelevant.
Any employer screening candidates based on a teenager’s MySpace page deserves to fail as more and more creative, capable, talented people go elsewhere. If you ran any business of 5 or more people and fired anyone who had ever done something foolish, you’d be working alone in a room. Until you re-read your own diary, that is, at which time you’d fire yourself. Chill out, people.
Employers think, “dumb teenage stunt means this person won’t be able to perform as an employee.” Hogwash. Racy MySpace pages don’t even show a lack of judgment, frankly. They show teenage judgment. What do you expect? Of course their judgment is different from adults. That’s why we call them “teenagers,” don’t let them drive without a permit, and won’t let them enter legally binding contracts until they’re 18. And they eventually grow up, developing skills, judgment, etc. Einstein failed classes in high school. Fortunately, some folks were willing to look past the teenager to see the adult.
And by the way, HR departments that think a 19-year-old’s drunken birthday party has anything to do with their ability to perform on the job are flat-out wrong. I’ve never heard of any study that showed that college partying, webcamming, or exhibitionist picture exchange affected job skills one iota (except the ability to market alcoholic beverages, in which case that background is a “plus”). If you are hiring a financial analyst, his goofy sophomore pictures are simply irrelevant. His financial analyst abilities and ability to behave at work are all that matters.
This is the future.
The piece that gets me the most is when all these self-righteous adults declare “These kids don’t know how the world works.” Au contraire. These adults don’t know how the world works. Teenagers do dumb things and these days, they put those things on web sites. That is how the world works. In ten years, the MySpace crowd will be at the hiring table. They’ll remember their public erotic escapades, foolish road trips, and bathroom barf pictures. They’ll remember the silly stuff all their friends did, too. And they’ll know, from first-hand experience, that having a public MySpace page is just part of being a 21st century teenager.
Maybe once they’re the hiring managers, they will ding anyone who doesn’t have a MySpace page. After all, someone who won’t show their full selves probably can’t be trusted. If a person pretends they’ve never done anything foolish, they’re obviously lying. And would someone of the MySpace generation really want to hire an aging liar? I don’t think so.
So relax, already, and enjoy your new employee, knowing that behind her prim-and-proper exterior lurks someone you really want planning your next holiday. Because unless she’s doing a lousy job at work, you’re free to ignore her MySpace page, even as she’s free to ignore your extra-marital affair. And yes, everyone knows about it, but they let you run your own life, and judge your work performance based on your merits.