Category Archives: Social Media

Social networking: Diversion during a down and out economy

Out of work? Join the crowd. No really. Join the crowd. Online. It’s where we’re all hanging out. 

According to a report earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, surfing the net is how we’re keeping ourselves busy, occupied and out of trouble.   

It also keeps us from going off the deep end. 

The article quotes a psychologist who contends there is evidence that Internet games, blogs and social networking sites provide a “psychological benefit because they prevent a downward spiral of rumination.” In other words, it keeps us from drinking ourselves into a stupor.     

Here’s why I think this article is spot on:  Social networking is the lifeboat on a sinking ship for me. To the critics who suggest I’m wasting my time or avoiding reality, I say: Aren’t you lucky to still have a job to go to everyday.

Just as people flocked to the movies during the Great Depression, today’s out of work workers are flocking to the Internet. They’re doing it for a number of reasons but mostly because it’s so damn diverting.  Last week, I spent an entire day writing “25 Random Things About Me.” I admitted to the world that I go weeks without changing the sheets on my bed and that I’m addicted to scratch tickets.  It was absolutely cathartic. Who needs a therapist? (Hell, who can afford one?) I may have avoided looking for work that day, but no way was it a waste of time. It lightened my mood and energized me. Sometimes, you just have to know when to escape. 

Probably more important, the Internet keeps me from feeling isolated. From the minute I was laid off nearly two months ago, I was communicating with co-workers and friends who were in that sinking ship looking for a life raft, too. Because the company cut off my networked email, the only way I had to communicate those first few days was through Facebook. It’s how I found out what was happening; how I found out about others who had lost their jobs, too. It helped diffuse anger, fear and helplessness. 

A bond was formed during those first few weeks and that connection sustains me day after day as I build a business while looking for full-time work. It’s like a support group.

Social networking allows me to socialize with more friends more often, sometimes on a daily basis. The first thing I do in the morning after pouring myself a hot cup of tea is check my Facebook news feed. It’s like meeting my girlfriends for breakfast. 

Could I go out? Go to the movies like they did during the Depression? Sure. And I do. Social networking is just a different kind of diversion. 

I agree, what we do with our day is much different than what we would have been doing 10 years ago or 70 years ago if we found ourselves out of work. Are we better off because of the Internet? For me, I don’t know how effective I would be with out it. Searching for full-time work, building my content development business, writing my blog and doing volunteer work keeps me busy, but it would be a lonely kind of day with no one but myself to talk to. I need the social interaction that the Internet provides. And, frankly, I’m grateful for it. 

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Is Facebook the new resume?

Branding yourself. Not a new concept. Recruiters have touted for years that branding, at least for C-level executives, is absolutely vital to a flourishing career. But with so many people out of work, this branding idea has come to the masses, thanks to the web, and if you’re job hunting without an online presence, you’re nobody. Literally. Nobody.  52881_hi

You can avoid Linkedin.com or Facebook.com all you want and muss about the evils of social networking sites, but you’re just kicking yourself in the ass. 

Even the least savvy of organizations will do a Google search — at least you should expect them to. And “the complete absence of an online presence can raise red flags,” says Brad Reagan in this month’s Smart Consumer column in Smart Money  magazine. Branding is a tricky thing, though, so your online presence must be managed well, wisely and often. What a potential employer sees online can determine whether you get that interview (or job) or not. 

Discretion is the key word here. While I assume you know better, it’s my observation that networking sites can be used  for good or evil, depending on the level of stupidity. I’ve worked with people (in their early 20s) who think nothing of putting a picture of themselves in a drunken stupor on Facebook — and are aware that I (their boss) had access to their site (as a friend). Being a brilliant speech writer for president-elect Obama doesn’t preclude you from doing dumb (very dumb) things and posting them to Facebook, either.  This guy was caught clutching the ass of a Hilary Clinton cut-out and somebody put the photo on Facebook. What were they thinking? Oh, wait, that’s right, they weren’t. 

Maybe this is why a recent  Boston Globe article about using Facebook as your professional profile proved to me that too much of the job-hunting advice I’ve been reading is being dumbed down — for the really dumb. Saying a profile picture of yourself holding a beer bottle may not be good for your image, is like saying dropping a cement block on your foot will hurt like a bastard. Some things should just be obvious when you become an adult and expect someone to hire you.

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Now I’m really depressed

There is an article in today’s Boston Globe about a job fair in NJ. The news is not good. It quotes an out-of-work tax analyst as saying, “”It’s hard to find a job. No one wants to hire anyone with any experience.” 

My friend Anne said to me yesterday that she thinks this sinking economy is a media hoax otherwise why would skiers be  swarming the slopes of Okemo like ants during Christmas vacation when lift tickets are $77/day.   I think she makes a valid point. My spirits are lifted as I think this all might be over in a day or two. But news late yesterday reported that EMC would lay off 2400 employees, 600 of them in Massachusets? Holy crap. Now I’m really depressed — especially if the line at that Dunkin’ Donuts on Rt 135 doesn’t get any shorter in the morning. 

Some stats out today according to the same Globe article: “A barometer on layoffs due out Thursday is expected to show that the number of newly laid off people signing up for state unemployment insurance last week rose to 540,000, up from 492,000 in the previous week, according to economists’ projections. The number of people continuing to draw jobless benefit is projected to stay near 4.5 million, demonstrating the troubles the unemployed are having in finding new jobs. Electronic unemployment filing systems have crashed in at least three states in recent days amid. 

What would it take to  put me in a more optimistic state-of-mind? To know that  someone is reading my brilliantly written cover letters and resumes instead of being lost in some black hole which is what I am convinced is happening.

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