IS Facebook a Requirement for Making an Income?

Here’s an interesting difference between the bureaucratic economy and the new, direct economy that’s emerging.

During a recent discussion with some recent college grads, a couple of people mentioned that some of big companies are strongly encouraging employees to delete their Facebook accounts.   The reason is something risk averse job seekers have known for a while.   Corporations don’t want employees tarnishing their image in public, and an employee can easily do that with a couple of racy photos on Facebook (this is due to the leverage of social media).


It also makes sense in theory.  Bureaucracies — it doesn’t matter if they are corporate or government — are based on the idea that people don’t really have a life outside of work.  To a bureaucracy, employees are just bodies with resumes and employment histories.  An employee’s life outside of the bureaucracy is a nuisance to be minimized.

What makes this interesting is that newly emerging economy (from sharing apps to home production) doesn’t  view an online presence as a nuisance.  It’s actually viewed as a requirement for participation.

The reason is pretty simple.

The new economy — Airbnb, Lyft, etc. — is based on trust between individuals, not between a company and an individual.

In order to make trust between individuals possible on a global scale (beyond the horizon of the neighborhood), the people in the new economy need to be visible online.  They need to have a background that can be seen and checked before other people can trust them enough to interact with them.  If you don’t have a presence (a blank), it’s a warning sign.

So far, the easiest way to see a person’s “resume” for the sharing economy is via their Facebook page.  It shows you have some friends, what you look like (and some of the places you go), and often provides a short biographical history (via the time and date for each post you make).  In fact, it’s likely that Facebook and the other forms of social media we currently use to establish interpersonal trust, are needed to make the “sharing” economy possible.

So, if you don’t have an online presence that demonstrates you aren’t a crank, get working on one.  If it currently shows you are a crank, it might be time to fix that if you want to be trusted in the future.

John Robb

PS>  Hey.  I wish we had a better social media blogging system than Facebook.  I can’t change that and neither can you.

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Discussion — 2 Responses

  • BenK January 1, 2014 on 9:29 pm

    It’s interesting to see the conflict internal to the military between the ideal bureaucracy and the necessity of asking soldiers to risk their lives. Ultimately, bureaucracies require that every office holder act exactly as any other person would in the same office – follow the rules in an impersonal fashion.

    However, nobody would die for a set of rules. They will, however, die for comrades in arms. So personal loyalty is a requirement in the military; a virtue, a core value, even. Personal loyalty and organizational impersonality comes into conflict when a military person holds any non-combat role. It creates a real potential for rule breaking as people are loyal to each other more than to the rules. If you purify this out, the entire military would fail in its core mission… but the contracting rules would be more evenly applied.

  • Richard J. Medicus January 2, 2014 on 4:49 pm

    Actually, something better will come along. It may already be in the works. Facebook and Twitter and MySpace and many others had to start somewhere.