Just as we learn, grow, and change in life, so does our use of social media platforms and technology in general. It makes sense though – when hot new programs come out and “everybody’s doing it” (thinking of you MySpace and Plaxo), it’s easy to create a user profile to see what you think of the platform.
You may be a heavy user at first (looking at you Facebook) and then back off, only to use it for certain functions (Groups and Events for example). In the interim, you may have joined Instagram because for some reason it seemed simpler and light-hearted. And don’t let the new, shiny things coming out pass you by without at least seeing if you like them, or if they help entertain you and connect you to loved ones (looking at you Snapchat and TikTok).
Amongst some doubt of new or potential users in the mid-2000s after Facebook opened up to those outside of universities, we have to admit that Facebook has had a longevity that some of the other platforms have not. It allows you to keep your personal network in one place as well as your photos, significant dates, your career changes, events, and even see what your cousins are up to. It almost feels like once you’re invested, it’s hard to get out.
The thing is, there is definitely a grey area on who you accept as a “friend”. It really is up to each person’s comfort level on who they want to be connected to, and how much sharing they do on the platform. This article isn’t going to address Facebook privacy concerns and data sharing, but we do encourage you to look into those if that is something that is important to you. It’s a similar idea with LinkedIn – some people are happy to connect with anyone and everyone, while others prefer to keep their connections to those they personally know and/or have worked with.
This story is addressing a question as it relates to an article in Inc. about whether or not it’s ok for managers and employees to be “Facebook friends”, and some other tricky professional situations. We have to look at a few things first, including the evolution of our use.
Since Facebook was made available to everyone, we have gone from a simple profile picture, relationship status (oof), and random updates about our breakfast/dentist appointments, to joining interest groups, sharing news articles, promoting brands and memes at a mind-boggling rate. Many people have considered deleting their Facebook profiles due to a high level of negativity, privacy concerns over their data and pictures, and how ultimately, scrolling your newsfeed can be a total time suck.
Many stay on because they are in groups (like super amazing, supportive, and popular ones such as Austin Digital Jobs) that they enjoy, and it’s a way to stay connected with others. This has felt true, especially during the pandemic, where many people lost their social outlets, networking opportunities, and were not able to get back together in person. Social media has also been a useful platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to run a business page at minimal costs (free unless they run advertising), and reach out to customers. Facebook (owner of Instagram) also seems to have been making strides this year to better support small business owners.
So, should you be Facebook friends with your boss?
That is up to you (we are not here to tell you how to run your life) and while many have said, “Nope” in a super unofficial survey of 30 respondents, there were a couple of interesting perspectives:
“Since I’m my boss, twist on my answer… I don’t yes any professional that asks to be FB friends. That’s what my page is for. I even have a canned response that says this because I get so many asks. My personal FB is for actual friends of mine. I didn’t want to yes my MIL either. I have her on the restricted list.”
“I guess it depends. I’m friends with my boss and most of my coworkers. Creative shop within a corporation … about 45 strong. We are tight.”
“If you love your job and you love your boss then I think it is ok. I work 2 part-time jobs and both of my bosses are amazing! I am friends and Facebook friends with both of them.”
“I’m fine. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore. My bosses are all fairly chill. ”
“I have been Facebook friends with previous bosses while they were my boss. I am not with my current boss, but I’d be fine with it if we were. I don’t post anything too crazy, and I tend to overshare in the office already. I like to be an open book. Tiktok would be different though… ”
For some who are part of a start-up or smaller team where collaboration and getting to know one another are supported (thinking teams of 10 or less, hey AG Staff Writers), this may be more of the ‘norm’ and acceptable. However, the majority of people do not want to be “Facebook friends” with their boss to draw a line between work and personal sharing. Many people also mentioned that it varied if they chose to be Facebook friends with their colleagues, although they seem to be more open to colleagues vs. direct supervisors.
This seems to reflect back on how you use Facebook and if sharing your weekend or family photos is not something you want everyone to see. On the flip side, if you’re not sharing much, maybe you’d be OK with being connected there. A more professional way of connecting with your supervisor and others at work is through LinkedIn and is in fact, highly encouraged.