Layoffs and networking: To tweet or not to tweet?

It happens to you. You’re called into your boss’s office and told that your job no longer exists. You go home in a daze and sign onto Facebook. There it is — a prompt asking:

“What’s on your mind?”

Do you tell your Facebook network that you’ve lost your job? Or do you resist the urge to broadcast this personal information across electronic channels?

Many are facing this dilemma in an era of both high unemployment rates and increased social networking. While there’s no definitive etiquette, people do seem to have strong feelings about the practice of using a status update to alert the world that they’ve gotten the ax.

Geoffrey Abraham, an advertising copywriter in Portland, Ore., thinks Facebook is no place to hang up your shingle. On his blog http://www.looklefty.blogspot.com, his rant-filled post

“Let’s Keep Facebook Fun, People” takes to task people who complain about their unemployed status on the social networking site.

“I understand that what I am witnessing is a sign of the times. In real time. I can even imagine these downtrodden folks thinking, ‘Hey, I have a lot of friends in here. Maybe one of them can get me a job,’” he wrote. “But nothing is less attractive than desperation.”

It might be easy to write Abraham off as a crank who doesn’t appreciate what it’s like to lose his job, but in fact he did this year (he’s employed now). As he noted in the post,

“The last thing I wanted all 356 of my ‘friends’ to know is that I was laid off. Most of those people don’t even know what I do. It would be like putting on 60 pounds before my high school reunion and telling everyone I still live in my parents’ basement.”

Hal Niedzviecki, author of the recent book “The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning To Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors,” says that social network sites offer an illusion that they are touchy-feely places where you can let it all hang out.

“We are using other people’s lives as our entertainment,” he says.


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