Don't listen to the doubters: Facebook is your friend

The scare stories have it wrong; Facebook is a force for openness and accountability in the world, argues Eduard Mead.

Facebook has firmly embedded itself into the university lifestyle, sitting proudly alongside binge drinking and promiscuity as an easy target for journalists on a slow news day. The general focus of these articles is either that Facebook consumes far too much time which could be better spent on studies, or that students are recklessly throwing away future job opportunities as a result of what they upload to their Facebook.

Is it really all that bad? When Christine Lagarde addressed the World Economic Forum on 23 January, she said that if Facebook and Twitter were countries, they would be the third and fourth largest in the world respectively. She then asked what this says about the aspirations of young people. What values do students draw from these two social media giants? Lagarde said it came down to three things: openness, inclusiveness and accountability.

Perhaps the rise of Facebook is a product of a collective growing self-confidence amongst young people - or maybe the reverse is true; but what we can be certain of is that this shift is having a profound impact on business attitudes and relations across the world. This is something we should welcome. The young workers of tomorrow are shunning the stuffy, functional workplace relationships of the past, in favour of more open, personal relationships with not only their colleagues but also the companies which employ them. Students are quite literally transferring the skills they acquire and utilise when making contacts in the real world, to the online world.

A lot is said about the dangers of having a strong social media presence. Some of it is valid, but most is unfounded. The world is changing, and people now have the chance to sculpt and refine their online image to best suit their goals and aspirations, a chance which was previously available only to those with the time and money to build their own personal homepage.

Photos are perhaps the most discussed ‘danger’ of Facebook, with employers warning that compromising photos can jeopardise the chances of any significant contract, but is that really the case? If so, will it always be the case? Within ten years we will have a generation that has grown up on Facebook, completely used to sharing masses of personal information with their online followers, in positions of power in the companies that now view Facebook with suspicion.

Employers know that their employees have lives outside of work, to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. Although giving your boss or a future employer access to a stream of drunken photos might be somewhat ill-judged, unless it has any direct connection to an offence committed in work, then it should hardly be a sackable offence, or a genuine reason to withhold employment from an individual; in the same way that seeing your boss out in a pub would not instantly result in you receiving your P45.

A lot of the examples used to warn of how professionally damaging Facebook can be refer to occasions where employees have skipped work and posted/tweeted about these experiences. Quite frankly, that kind of stupidity is not a fault of Facebook, but of the individual's judgement which would land them in trouble even without Facebook. Of course, most university students, being the highly intelligent bunch that they are, wouldn’t dream of making such an error of judgement....

To return to Lagarde, Facebook represents a new era in business relations, one which is driven by the students of today. It's a more open world, with honesty at its core; lies are hard to disguise when you have perhaps 400 contacts 'peer-reviewing' your every status (no, you really didn’t 'spend £100 on drinks last night', stop trying to show off).

It also heralds the start of a more inclusive world; no longer is networking confined to the upper classes; through Facebook and other dedicated networking websites like LinkedIn, it has never been easier for students to connect with future employers, increasing social mobility on a scale that those behind the HS2 network can only dream of. Future employers who, for the first time, have the luxury of being able to access a mass of information on prospective employees, enabling them to make an informed decision and reinforce the idea that workers are human beings too.

Finally, we’re moving towards a world which isn't afraid of accountability; Facebook should only be feared by those with something to hide, or those who feel they need to present a distorted view of themselves in order to achieve professional success. Businesses are learning to embrace social networks and online marketing; something which will improve rapidly as the university students of today grow and find themselves in positions of authority within these firms.

Eduard Mead is an SBA for the i paper and aspiring economist studying at Sussex University. He blogs at www.pointlesseconomicmusings.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'