May 15 2009

Who are your friends?

Jamie Barrows

I saw the following comic today and was struck by how true it is. You can tell an awful lot about people by looking at who their friends are.

Which got me wondering about what “who my friends are” says about me. Is it something I want said? Would I be proud of what it says about me? Does it say something bad? Does it say something good? I don’t really know, but I do know that it’s something I should be concerned with. And you should be too.

A lot of people use who their friends are to increase their status or their importance. And that isn’t what I’m talking about.

No, what I’m talking about is the people you actually enjoy spending time with. I’m not talking about casual friends or acquaintances. I’m talking about your close friends. The people you call and talk to on a regular basis for no reason. The people who you hang out with regularly. Because those people highlight something about your character and your beliefs. They probably have little or no effect on your status or importance. And chances are that no one cares one way or another that you are friends with them. But that doesn’t change the fact that, even if no one cares that you are friends with those particular people, it still shows something about your character. Something that people will recognize either consciously or unconsciously.

Maybe it shows something good. Something you wouldn’t be ashamed to have people know about you. But maybe it shows something bad. Something you would rather your parents, pastor, or other authority figure didn’t know about you. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to “fix” that issue in your life. Because who your friends are isn’t the problem. Your friends are just a symptom. The problem is you, and your character flaws.

So who are your friends?

May 13 2009

Reputation: You vs. The other you

Jamie Barrows

I read an article the other day on Scott Adam’s blog titled The Other Scott Adams” In case you don’t know, Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic. A comic that helps all of us office workers keep a little sanity. And ever since I found his blog, I’ve been enjoying his daily(ish) comments on society and current events.

So anyway, back to the article. The gist of it was that in this day and age, if you have a common name, your reputation ends up closely tied to the actions of the “other” you(s) that are out there. This isn’t really a new thing. Throughout the history you can watch the popularity of names rise and fall based on the actions of prominent people. After all, no one wants to be named after a mass murderer or even have themselves associated with one via their name. What makes today’s name associations different from those of the past, is the ease with which those associations can be found.

In the past, it was unlikely that someone(with the same name) else’s actions would ever be noticed by your friends, coworkers, and relatives unless they became famous/infamous for them. These days those other you’s are a simple Google search away. And as people search engines(which I mentioned in a previous post) become more common and better at finding details about individuals, those other people with your name are going to be noticed by you and your friends even more.

So try it. Google your name and see how many other you’s there are in the first two or three pages that come back. Unless you post a lot online under your own name, you will probably be surprised at how many other you’s there are in the first three pages. Now ask yourself, is it likely that people who don’t know you very well or are potential employers likely to be able to tell which of those “you’s” that come back are really you?