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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Being Real

I'm posing a question here. I'm not being critical or making a point, other than to say that I have a question.

I've noticed in our 25 year old daughter and in co-workers of a similar vintage a generational value of authenticity. "Being real" is short-hand for baring your soul or expressing unvarnished, uncensored feelings to others regardless of how they receive that information. Combined with the growing ubiquitous presence of social media, you can now gain and lose friends with lightening speed by saying what you really feel.

At the risk of self-identifying as being old school, I find this noteworthy from both a generational and geographic perspective. I was not only raised in the south, but raised southern. My dad is from Kentucky and my mom is from Mississippi. Dad is from a tiny town in the western part of the state, and mom was raised by a school teacher and a minister. The southern value of that day was propriety and discretion above all else. It is 180 degrees from "being real".

Now here is what I believe to be the open question for the transparent generation. As this group moves through their career life cycles in business, politics, ministry, or whatever how will this impact their careers? Already employers are vetting candidates for both hiring and promotion through a review of available on-line information. This includes self-posted information such as twitters, unprotected Facebook information, and whatever else may show up when you Google an individual. This practice has become so pervasive that it's the new body of law emerging in HR: on-line invasion of privacy, as incredibly contradictory as that term may sound. (Your privacy has been invaded by someone reading something you posted on the Internet for everyone to see?)

By the time current 20-somethings are being considered for positions of greater responsibility, who will be making those decisions and how will this information play into their selection choices? Will the values of authenticity and transparency have been integrated into society as a value, much like tolerance has replaced racism in my lifetime? Or will what you write today come back to haunt you tomorrow?

Again, I don't have the answer. I believe what's relevant is the question and that it should be a topic of conversation among the rising stars of the junior ranks.

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