We all have people in our lives who simply refuse to acquire a Facebook account. For me, it’s a close friend and his boyfriend who just will not come on board; my husband didn’t have an account until late last year, around the same time the New York Times called this cohort “the Facebook resisters.” These days, a Facebook presence is so standard in modern life that now some employers say that staying away is cause for real suspicion about a job candidate. Yes, that’s right: Making one false move on Facebook can cost you a job, and now it turns out that staying off carries a penalty, too.
Given that 90% of recruiters check a job candidates’ online profiles as part of the screening process, they notice if they can’t find one. “For today’s young generation,” as Mashable puts it, “having Facebook is considered ‘normal,’ while opting out is considered ‘abnormal.’” Going Facebook-less raises red flags: Was your profile so offensive you had to delete it? Are you antisocial? Are you hiding something?
Even opting for off-brand social media could flag you as a weirdo in some people’e eyes. A German magazine even recently noted that mass murderers Anders Breivik and James Holmes didn’t have Facebook accounts, opting instead for MySpace and Adult Friend Finder, respectively. The magazine’s implication was that “off” social media choices correlates to “off” — even psychotic — actions.
And it’s not just employers who raise their eyebrows at people who refuse to cultivate online lives. As Forbes writer Kashmir Hill reports, tech etiquette team for Slate concludes that dating someone without a Facebook page means “you may be getting a false name,” and that, “You should be suspicious of someone who is not making your relationship known publicly on a site like Facebook.”
The big takeaway here: Staying off Facebook is becoming as notable as refusing to use a car or a cell phone. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to abstain or that it’s not the right choice for you, but people without Facebook can’t expect other people not to notice — and that includes potential employers.