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My Facebook Mea Culpa

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A couple of lessons learned from my recent blog post on the generational gap between people who'd seriously entertain the idea of leaving a job over restricted Facebook access and those who wouldn't:

  • Getting an item on digg spikes your Web traffic like nobody's business.
  • I wasn't as specific as I could have been on my point that Facebook can slow network performance. Several of the folks who commented on my post took me to task -- and rightfully so -- over this. Let me clarify with this actual quote from IT Business Edge's VP of technology: "It's the ancillary links that can get you." While Facebook usage in and of itself won't put much of a knock on a network, it can if enough Facebook users indulge in uploading, downloading or watching video clips.
  • I could use a snarkiness filter. "Grow up, punks" probably wasn't the best way to illustrate my dismayed reaction to a survey by IT services provider Telindus that found 39 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds would consider leaving a job if a Facebook ban was imposed. Still, I think I have a valid point. Jeez, if you can't get through a standard work day without Facebook, I bet your back is killing you -- from that monkey you are carrying.
  • People will read stuff into a blog post that just isn't there. I never supported -- or even mentioned -- banning Facebook at the office. For what it's worth, I believe employees should enjoy freedoms -- electronic and otherwise -- at the office. I know folks can waste as much time discussing "American Idol" with co-workers as they can poking friends on Facebook. I made the same point back in January 2007. My stance was then -- and still is now -- that companies need Internet usage policies, but largely to prevent the use of sites that pose obvious security and liability risks (gambling, porn, et al). And as one commenter pointed out, at least employees discussing non-work-related topics in person helps build on-the-job camaraderie. Many companies, including Google, Apple and Yahoo, appear to be realizing this, as I wrote in April.
  • I wonder if the folks who spend so much time on Facebook today will do so in 10 years' time. As I get older, I realize life is too short to spend so much of it online. I think many of the most slavish Facebook users are those who relied on it throughout their college years and continue to do so now that they're in the workplace. Not having grown up with Facebook, it's hard for me to understand its attraction. It does seem like a more convenient way to stay in touch with friends -- and OK, potential employers -- provided the rest of your circle is also on Facebook. But like IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson, I tend to find other tools better suit my needs. Back in October she wrote:
In particular, I don't get "the Wall." How are you supposed to use it? It's not really good at anything: Blogs are better for posting personal updates; e-mail, IM and discussion groups are all better for conversation and comments. To me, the Wall is like a pencil without a lead - pointless.
  • That generation gap? It's going to create some problems. Much of the comment string on my blog pitted folks calling younger employees "brats" vs. those calling older workers "fogeys" and "dinosaurs." Both sides will be happier, I think, if they remain as open as possible to others' views. In general, I advocate on-the-job flexibility. Yet it seems fairly obvious that some controls need to be in place. I telecommute regularly and wouldn't want to work for a company where it wasn't an option. Still, I can appreciate this Crotchety Manager's View on Telecommuting. Many commenters seemed to feel that as long as they could get their work done -- and do it well -- they should be allowed to do as they please. That sense of entitlement isn't likely to play well in any environment that involves working in teams -- and that's most workplaces.
  • Despite my skepticism, I still think Facebook has enterprise potential. A new Microsoft initiative called TownSquare, which IT Business Edge's Kachina Dunn wrote about on Friday, seems to point up the possibilities.
  • I used to think no one could top the angry reader who called me a "dump ass" as his way of letting me know he didn't like one of my blog posts on outsourcing. (Apparently not a typo, as he sprinkled it liberally throughout his comment, spelling it the same way each time.) Darned if a reader calling him/herself Eh? didn't do it by referring to me as Methusaleh.
  • People will take personal pot shots when they aren't merited, especially online. Responding to my use of the word, "deleterious," B in DC wrote: "Pompous pricks use words like this." No, people with dictionaries use words like this. They even have those online these days. If I was feeling similarly mean-spirited, I'd point out that despite B in DC's contention that "We are the most educated group the U.S. has ever had," his or her comment contained several spelling and grammatical errors.

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