Guilt by association on social media is a reality. If you're associated with someone or some belief that doesn't represent you can be a pretty painful experience. You may have to cut them loose.
“It's them, not me” might work if you're an innocent bystander of a crime, but being tagged on Facebook, or your comment on a thread, is hard to escape. There’s a quote going around that says we're the average of five people we hang out with. I don't necessarily believe it in its entirety, but perception is everything. You can opt to hide their notifications, but to disassociate as a choice is nice to have since the person offers little to no value by their inflammatory and divisive updates (only as it matters to you)!
It's true in dating to a point. There is a pause when we meet potential friends, and they turn us off. Our potential significant other has lost significance. Sometimes, this downgrade is temporary, but other times it's a deal breaker. But that's for a later discussion.
If you want to find jobs in the new job search, then you need to consider the condition people will find you. It could be favorable where employers or recruiters are impressed, or unfavorable because of a scathing photo, video, or comment.
You must ask the question of each person, "Does his or her online reputation and behavior jeopardize my reputation?" If you're unsure, please consider these occurrences:
- Your distracting connection keeps tagging you on random ugly and divisive pictures. People often associate you with your partners. Plain and straightforward. Disassociation is painful, but it may be necessary. Even if you're not looking for a job, but you are seriously networking for your next career move, people connect with you on your values as well as career aspirations. There are subtle ways of cutting them loose without them being insulted.
- Your distracting connection's polarizing opinions impede your messaging. The political season has highlighted those in politics and those who are passionate about their views. You may even be tempted to post your views, but possibly you can turn off your connections and key hearers no matter what your intentions. A couple of years ago someone posted career and life goals on Facebook. One of their friends commented, "Yeah, right!" I couldn't help but see "Yeah, right" was accurate and playing out unfavorably for the originator of the post. Those comments will give employers a reason to pause further vetting.
- Your distracting connection's comments on your posts are embarrassing. There are those who attempt to add value to a well-thought out post, and your cousin decides to post a separate article on Prince. Your attention-seeking cousin has posted something having nothing to do with the post or comments. Wait, let's talk about the adult shaming and cursing comments on your post. You respond, "Lol." Yes, a logical person will see it's not your fault people can't control his or her mouth, but again, guilt by association is quite hurtful.
- Your distracting connections and wacky friends have useful contacts. Yes, you want an introduction to their influential friends, but not via the wacky friend. It might be worse, and it's not always a bad scenario, just an uncomfortable one. People will want to know the genesis of your connection; what can you say? It's complicated. The exception is you can follow the person and charm your way into a reciprocal friend invite.
- Your distracting connections aren't worth the time. You don't want to spend time managing your timeline. You can quietly unfriend people, and who can blame you? It's your personal brand to perfect. You don't want to give a potential employer a bad impression. The extreme approach on some social networks requires you to block them. Your career is at stake.
You want to show that you protect your personal brand so a potential employer can envision you protecting theirs. You should spend time who you want to follow and unfollow and who to keep as a friend. You can take back your timeline and filter out all of those political and unsavory postings. The impression you give to a recruiter or employer is up to you.