I used to like Facebook. It's a great place to keep in touch with friends' announcements, family who have moved away, and to catch up with old school and college friends who you've not seen in years.
But recently there's been a downside.
Many of my colleagues are friends of mine on Facebook. We banter back and forth, chat about what we did on our days off, and make small talk. But we are not allowed to discuss work. Fair enough, for as nurses we have a code of conduct to abide by. We are charged to "uphold the reputation of your profession at all times", including when we are off duty. Recently a few nurses in the hospital had put statuses on their Facebook pages complaining about certain situations and issues going on within the hospital. They were, quite rightly, heavily disciplined.
I am really glad to say that none of this involved me.
However, last night, when I went into work, one of my colleagues was very frosty towards me, and didn't really speak to me unless she absolutely had to. Not one for confrontation, I didn't ask her what was wrong, but later she was talking about a colleague putting hurtful things about her on Facebook. Specifically at the time she was off sick with swine flu. Genuinely shocked, I asked her who would do that, as most of the people we work with are very nice people. I was met with a very snippy answer, "Colleague 2, but you already know, you "liked" it".
I was shocked. I would NEVER intentionally set out to hurt one of my colleagues, especially not this particular colleague because she is really lovely. And especially because I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. So I looked back at the Facebook statuses, and found the one she was talking about.
It said this: This was on the 5th of January. I asked if this was the one she meant, and she said yes, and that it was a dig at her, because she was off sick at that time.
"All these people saying don't wanna go back to work some of us have hardly been off!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I was utterly bemused. Twelve other people "liked" this comment. A few had commmented. I took it to mean that Colleague 2 was talking about the people who had been off for the Christmas and New Year holidays going back to work, as between the nurses, each of us had worked either Christmas or New Year (I did New Year), not having had time off. I tried explaining this, but she seemed adamant that it was definitely meant towards her.
This is what I hate about social networking sites. People can mis-interpret what you say, and it's hard to express emotion, intent and scarasm etc. Colleague 1 is not originally from Scotland, and does tend to interpret things differently, as she sometimes doesn't understand our expressions.
The message on Facebook was clearly not intended to offend, but it did, and I was indirectly and unintentionally involved. This got me thinking about the things I post, both on Twitter and Facebook. Am I getting the right message across? Will people take what I say the wrong way? Am I offending anyone? Will it get me into trouble?
Colleague 1 has since deleted me, and a couple other colleagues from Facebook.
At the moment, I am careful of what I "like" and what I say on Facebook. As my dad always says: "It is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and resolve all doubt." ~Abraham Lincoln