"I Hate My Coworkers Social Media Posts but I Like Working with Her"
03/07/23 Edition Stephen Says Column
I love my job and I love my immediate work group. I’m in sales and marketing support at a major manufacturer in #Michigan. We’re a publicly traded company and we have cool products and a welcoming work culture. It’s just a great place to work. Everyone is encouraged to be back at work, and as I read between the lines, I know this means that if I want to keep my job, and get ahead here, I need to be in the office – which is great! Coming to work is like a vacation from being home with my husband, who still works mostly from home with two kids and three dogs. Yikes!
I know what I am writing you about doesn’t seem like a legitimate problem, but I have to share it. And why not with you!
For years, I’ve followed a lot of my coworkers on #Facebook. As social media changed, and our ages, we became #Instagram friends - and now a lot of the real young people are on #TikTok, which I have not gone near yet. I cringe what my kids have posted on it sometimes. During the pandemic social media was great to keep up with people, family and coworkers, see how their lives are, and what everyone was up to. Now that the day-to-day routine is back to normal, I realize that one of my coworkers, who I really like, has way too much need to share; it seems like she is constantly posting. She has a bad habit of telling everyone who will read it about every detail of her life; taking time for herself, what she is “grateful” for, every piece of food she eats, things she cooks and pickles, her husband asleep on the couch with his stomach hanging out and his shoes off; the kids with food all over their face; her bathroom mirror with toothpaste smudged all over it. You get the idea. It’s not just the photos, it’s what she say’s and how she hashtags the photos that I just cannot understand for the life of me.
Here’s the thing, she’s a hard worker and I love working with her, but images from her Instagram seep into my mind every time she talks to me or when I’m watching her give a presentation. I just can’t take her seriously anymore. Should I say something? I feel like I’m seeing something I’m not supposed to see.
And please don’t give me the obvious “I could always unfriend her”, or mute her, because when we talk, she often refers to the post, like I saw her post, so it would hurt her feelings if I just stopped following her. What do you think?
Seen Too Much Suzy
Yes – the obvious answer used to be stop following her or unfriend her – “it’s your account." But you said it yourself, you will hurt her feelings, and that is not something you want to do to a co-worker, especially since you consider her a friend. Let’s face it, if your friends are over 50 it tends to be Facebook, if they’re younger it’s Instagram, if they're even younger it’s TikTok. We all have friends we’re tired of seeing on social media. For me, it’s what my friends are eating or like you, showing what they are “#grateful” for, or the countless pics of friends at the gym and their tattoos that drive me crazy – "enough already!"
Or, how about friends who decide to assume the role of Walter Cronkite and want to be the newscaster of the feed. Then post some obvious story, that we all know just happened, Rest in Peace #LisaMariaPresley, but do 50 of my friends really have to re-post it?
Worst of all is when friends make their page so political - left, right, red, blue, green, purple, whatever – the only thing they accomplish is to amplify the partisan divide we have and make everybody feel worse. What a waste of time and energy.
Here’s my suggestion. Social Media is a nice way to bond closer with friends at work that we like, however we don’t have to like everything about them and their posts. Instead of unfriending someone, I suggest self-editing yourself—and what you read. It’s no different than if I watch a scary movie and close my eyes during the jump scares.
If you “mute” someone, it’s going to be obvious to them that you don’t see their posts. People addicted to social media will sense that you muted them, and they may not understand why, and chances are it will hurt their feelings. You probably don’t want to get into a long discussion with them about why you unfriended (or muted) them, even temporarily – that would be awkward. So, when you scroll through, try not to think about what or why they post, if it’s a more personal post like a child’s birthday or an anniversary, give your co-worker a like, but skip through the rest. If they mention something you did not see, do what I do, and pretend you did see it and say, “yes, wow that was cute” and change the subject.
And if you don’t like looking at other people’s lives on social media, pick up a book, alienate your friends, and don’t comment at all. You can be the social media scrooge of the office – every office has one.
Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of www.viscusigroup.com, an executive search practice specializing in the interior furnishings industry. Hires made through The Viscusi Group are guaranteed a one-year free replacement. Please share your story or comment on this article and send your workplace questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give us a call at (212) 979-5700; ext. 101.
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