True Transparency?

Photo cred: Jey-Heich
Photo cred: Jey-Heich

This is a post I’ve been pondering for a while, but was hesitant as up to this point I haven’t necessarily practiced what I’m about to preach…and I’m sure a lot of people won’t like what I’m about to say, but I’ve decided it needs to be said.

I love social media (or at least the concept that is referred to as social media). I love what it does for communication.  I love what it does for community building.

One of the major concepts of social media is transparency.  Be yourself, act human, don’t lie or cover up anything, just be open about who you are and the things you do and your followers/readers/customers will appreciate you.

This concept has brought out the best in many, as the social web, namely twitter, has become a go-to location to find advice or answers when you’re facing a problem.  Almost everyone is ready and willing to take time out of their day to help you when you need it.  Everyone is supportive of (it seems like) everyone.  It’s truly amazing…but is it truly transparent?

Are we replacing the “formal”, nontransparent restrictions of the past’s professional community with restrictions of nontransparent, kindness?  Is this really who we are ?

Maybe the answer is yes, and I’m confident that given the career path chosen by those involved in this community, many of us are good people with good hearts.  Is it a matter of bringing out the best in us? Or, are we becoming overly kind and complimentary just to appeal/conform to the community?  Has the concept of sharing and contributing to the community committed us to sharing and contributing things that are not actually worthy of such promotion?

My point is that we preach transparency, but are we truly being transparent in our online communities?  Is it a bad thing to be so complimentative and supportive of each other? It’s certainly better than the alternative, cut-throat business values.  The problem is it’s laying a veil of falsities over the people and content we share, placing value on things that are not actually valuable.

There are a few people that this does not even apply to.  The people that are able to be generous, sharing, helpful etc…but still call it as they see it.  They’re not afraid to call issues or people out, respectfully, and keep true to their true, transparent personality.

Don’t replace honesty with a false concept of transparency.

Please…share your thoughts.

Bias in the Age of Transparency

Photo cred: Tyron Francis
Photo cred: Tyron Francis

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a close acquaintance of mine, who is also the Director of Emerging Technologies and Social Media for a big advertising firm.  I asked him to take a look at my blog and linkedin profile to see if he can give me any advice for improvement.  He brought up something that took me by surprise.  He said, “Why do you have your picture up on all of your social media sites? People don’t need to know how old you are.”

I was a bit surprised because one of the big things I’ve heard from the social media community is how important it is to be consistent in your online presence. Use the same picture for your twitter, linkedin, facebook, etc to build your personal brand recognition.

I think sometimes we get caught up in all that social media has to offer and forget the reality of some situations.  What we so quickly forgot is that there is a great deal of bias in human beings. Everything from your age and gender to your race and religion can and does effect how people view you.

As most of my readers know, I am going to be graduating soon and I am looking for a job.  Social media has given me amazing networking opportunities, allowing me to communicate on a daily basis with people that I never would have met..but has it also hurt me? In this new age of transparency, where you’re expected to be honest and open with who you are, I have put who I am out there for anyone to see. By doing so, I may have also given a lot of companies a reason to weed me out of their recruitment process. Sometimes, all it takes is a picture.

I opted to keep my pictures up and to continue using social media as I have been, because I believe in the values of transparency and honesty.  I think its something that the professional world has lacked in the past and social media is helping us change that. 

Am I being naive? I am looking for an entry-level job in one of the toughest job markets this country has seen in a long time and cannot afford to sacrifice any opportunities. Should I be more careful? How will bias play a role in the “Age of Transparency”? … What’s your take?