Let’s make a toast!

November 19, 2009 at 10:45 pm 11 comments

Disclaimer: This photo has been staged in order to make a point.

I’m over the age of 21, which means I’m legal to consume alcoholic beverages. And I take advantage of my legality: I like to kick back with a nice Bell’s microbrew or a glass of Shiraz once in a while.

However, I’m hesitant to leave pictures of me with a drink in my hand on social networking sites, such as Facebook, because “Big Brother” (aka employers) are watching.

This is what I find difficult to swallow: I’ve seen pictures of professors, employers, and professionals with a drink in their hands (I’m facebook friends with many of them and even have enjoyed an adult beverage with a few of them). So, let me get this straight: I’m not supposed have photos of me drinking, but you can (directed at a general “you,” not anyone specific)?

And to what extent does this “censorship” go? Am I allowed to have a photo where I have a drink on the table? Am I allowed to be in a photo with someone who has a solo cup in his or her hand? I think there’s a certain point where you have to draw the line.

Much like News Editor Dan Hamilton, who recently wrote on a similar topic in our school newspaper, I drink because I enjoy what I’m drinking; not because I want to get “slammed” and make a fool of myself.

The amount of drinks necessary to be considered “binge drinking” is four or more drinks consumed within two hours for women and five or more drinks for men. Many times, my amount of drinking will not go beyond two or three in a night. And even that isn’t very often, most times I’ll have one beverage after a stressful day of work, classes, homework, job hunting, and other anomalies that are relevant to the life of a college senior.

Though college students typically carry the stigmata of binge drinking, not all college students, such as myself, fit the norm. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never binged on alcohol before, but then again, not many adults can claim they never have either.

When consumed in moderation, I think drinking adult beverages can prove a sense of responsibility and maturity.

What do you think? Should students of legal drinking age hide or censor the fact that they enjoy drinking in moderation now and again? *Should they have to remove every photo that has an alcoholic beverage within the vicinity?

*This question was initially one that went unanswered at this week’s #PRStudChat.

Entry filed under: Social Media, etc.. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. josmosis6  |  November 19, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Age has no place in my argument. We’re all people living our own lives independent of our professional careers. Having a life outside of the professional and mature world doesn’t make anyone unprofessional or immature. No one should be punished for having a personal life or should feel obligated to hide what they enjoy doing. The USA is the only place in the world I’ve been where alcohol stirs up this much controversy.

    Simply put, we’re “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” not “the land of prohibition and the home of the sober.”

  • 2. Allan Schoenberg  |  November 19, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    You make some interesting points. In my own opinion I don’t think anyone sees anything wrong with a photo or two of you and a cold beverage in your hand. There obviously is going to be a perception issue based but if your photos are of you and your friends at dinner or a formal event drinks are to be expected on occasion. The worry is when you *only* have photos of you drinking or the one or two that do exist you are more than intoxicated. My suggestions are 1) Always proceed with caution in posting photos 2) Don’t be afraid to untag yourself from the photos you don’t want people to see 3) Use your privacy settings.

  • 3. Allison Ralston  |  November 20, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I am also a college senior, and I personally have left a few pictures with alcohol present on my Facebook page. There are a couple from my 21st birthday, I am enjoying a drink with friends. That is all that is shown. I personally think that with something like that, everyone knows I went out and had a drink, or two, on my 21st birthday. I don’t feel that there is any reason to hide it.

    I completely agree with what you have said here in your post. Going out and getting wasted: no; casual drinks with friends, family, coworkers,professors, fellow professionals: seems okay to me.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • 4. Robin Luymes  |  November 20, 2009 at 12:45 am

    I’ve hired numerous employees over the past 12 years, including many interns and recent grads. I will admit to having scouted social media sites the last few times (there weren’t any to check before that!) and I don’t think I’ve ever looked askance at pix of candidates with drinks.

    For starters, we were there too! There just weren’t facebook sites back then. And, as you point out, by the time you are graduating, you’re legal. If, however, there were lots of pix of you REALLY partying down it might have raised an eyebrow. Not that the pix were there, but that your profile was “open” to a potential employer like me.

    I also wouldn’t confuse something like Facebook with LinkedIn. One’s for friends, the other’s a professional representation. Good luck as you prepare for many interviews in your future. My advice is to keep your Facebook and MySpace profiles restricted to true friends and use LinkedIn to present yourself in the best light possible to prospective employers.

  • 5. Norm  |  November 20, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I have often wondered if I did not get a job a couple of years back because an employer looked at my MySpace page. Mind you I didn’t have any photos on there, nor any off the wall wierd things. But the fact that it was brought to my attention that they looked at it did seem a bit odd.

    So to get to your question – I think anything that a potential employer could see online needs to be tasteful. Party pics even if you’re just tagged in the background you should be mindful of. A pic with a beer bottle/can, drink in hand here or there I don’t think is something to be too concerned with unless that’s a majority of your photos.

    Case in point, there have been some photos that people have put up on Facebook of me that I untagged or plain asked that they take it down. As previously mentioned we have been there and done that, but when I have personal and professional “Friends” I need to be aware of how I am presented.

    As a believer in brands, you always have to think about how is your brand represented.

  • 6. bethanyrc  |  November 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I feel that pictures with drinks are fine. No one wants to hire an individual who has no social life and is incredibly boring.
    Your point of moderation is VERY important though.
    While people want to work with someone who is interesting and fun, they do not want a sloppy alchy in the office.
    Key word=Moderation.

  • 7. Mitch McDonald  |  November 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    This is an issue I’ve fought myself over for sometime. When I joined Facebook a couple years ago, I began noticing the trend of people posting pics and tagging others in “un-professional” settings. I soon decided to not use my full name on Facebook, never post a profile pic showing my face, and become Machiavellian towards my privacy settings. My theory is that pictures of people drinking simply aren’t that interesting to begin with, and probably shouldn’t be taken in the first place. It’s just not worth scaring away potential employers who lead a more conservative life-style so that you can look “cool” on the internet.

    On the flip-side, there are many Asian cultures that embrace employees and co-workers that do drink. In Korea for example, you are excepted to socialize and drink with your company. This provides one of the few opportunities where you’re allowed to speak candidly about the workplace, and not be held liable for your actions.

    Maybe our culture is trending that way in the wake of the “Beer Summit.”

  • 8. Rachel Esterline  |  November 20, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve faced this problem too. I’m 21, but should I allow pictures to be posted if there is any relation to alcohol?

    I keep the pictures off, unless it’s a formal event where drinks are obviously present. I’d rather play it safe than to be sorry just because I haven’t graduated and don’t know who might view my profile when I am seeking jobs.

    Great topic!

  • 9. Kion  |  November 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    As a current senior who’s looking full-time employment in May, I’m always worried about my social media reputation. Recently, I was tagged in a couple of Facebook photos that could have been perceived as “inappropriate.” In these photos, I was with a couple of friends at a bar with a shot in my hand. That night, we only had two drinks but I was still afraid potential employers and followers would see it as “inappropriate.” After long thought and advice from mentors, I decided to keep the photos tagged.

    There isn’t anything wrong with students drinking who are legally able.

    Protecting your reputation on social media sites is crucial for students and professionals. I think the major factor that needs to be considered with these photos is the scenery. A photo of you drinking at a networking social is acceptable. A photo of you drinking at a frat party may not be as acceptable. The setting and scenery is key.

  • 10. Valerie  |  November 22, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Interesting question and I think the answer really comes down to this- how do you want to be percieved and does that picture help or hurt that perception. In my opinion, it is less about what is “right” or “wrong” and more about how others will judge you. Should people make judgements, and will they make judgements are two very different questions. Personally, when in doubt I would refrain from sharing. Unless it is something I am comfortable with my kids, husband, parents, boss, clients and future boss seeing, I prefer not to put out in the “public”. David Teicher did an interesting experiment on this subject- When is a Beer Not a Beer: When it’s in your Twitter Avatar http://ow.ly/Er8i

    Again, great post- cheers 🙂

  • 11. steve fox  |  November 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Sounds like your readers have really sorted this one out. I like how something creates a conversation like this.

    I agree. Drink if you want. But don’t be about drinking.


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