Randi Zuckerberg: Post More Baby Photos!

It’s time to stop pretending we can separate our personal life from our work life

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Randi Zuckerberg

As the sister of Facebook’s founder, I’ve seen people over the years delight in finding bits of my life that have surfaced online and giving them undue attention. Some bachelorette party photos here, a video of me singing there—the attention is understandable. But it’s exhausting to put on an act—to be somebody in one situation and somebody else in another. So a long time ago, I decided to stop being afraid to share.

This philosophy was put to the test when I had my son Asher two years ago. Even though I promised myself that when he was born, I wouldn’t become “that mom” on Facebook, I fell hard off the wagon. First yawn? Adorbs. Facebook it. First hiccups? Obviously all my friends want to see that. Snoozing in a park? OMG, soooo cute! Who wouldn’t want to see baby photos 50 times a day?

I soon found out. I had some pretty honest co-workers, and one day one of them decided to give it to me straight. “Randi,” she said, “Asher is adorable, but you can’t keep posting a zillion baby photos. You have a professional reputation to uphold.”

Ultimately, though, I came to the conclusion that the people who think we need to create a purely professional, one-dimensional brand online have got it totally wrong.

Hear me out.

Right now, there are two generations in the workforce who think in diametrically opposite ways about identity. Executives who came of age in the pre-smartphone era take it as a given that you should have a separate professional persona that reads like a profile in Forbes and doesn’t overlap with your personal life.

But my generation came of age in a world with social networks, and we know that we don’t have that luxury anymore. We understand that the business leaders of the future will be three-dimensional­ personalities whose lives, interests, hobbies and passions outside of work are documented and on display.

We should embrace this new world. The answer isn’t fewer baby pictures; it’s more baby pictures. It’s not that I should post less; it’s that everyone else should post more.

Let’s change what it means to be professional in the Internet age. The time when your personal identity was a secret to your colleagues is over and done. And that is a good thing.

If anything, being my authentic self online makes me a better leader at work. Research has shown that when you refuse to share personal details on Facebook with your colleagues, it reduces your likability in the office compared with that of people who share. A forthcoming white paper by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School shows that people who shared personal information with their work colleagues and ­bosses—and seamlessly blended their off-line and online lives—were thought of as better workers.

Since we’re all going to be exposing more about ourselves online in our careers, we need to start being a bit more tolerant of what we learn about our colleagues and professional contacts. Employees are people too, and most (or at least some) of their lives are spent outside the office. As the distinction between public and private behavior changes, so should our expectations of one another.

We also need to be sure that we respect one another’s tech-life balance. Given that your work colleagues will also be your friends on social media, there could come a time when you are still waiting for a response from them relating to a work matter and see that they have had time to post something on Instagram or make a move in Words With Friends. At these times, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has a life outside of work—and we’re all entitled to it.

This also applies in the world of our friends. With texting, in particular, it feels as if we should get a response instantaneously. But demanding an instant reply to your messages is like tapping someone on the shoulder and interrupting a conversation they’re having with someone else.

When you maintain a single identity online and grant the same to your co-workers, you not only become better regarded and more trustworthy at work, but you also become more productive.
Plus, who doesn’t like baby photos of kids on vacation? There’s nothing more adorable than watching little Asher try to walk in the sand. I think I have a picture of it somewhere.

Zuckerberg is the CEO and founder of Zuckerberg Media and author of Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives (HarperCollins Publishers, 2013), from which this is adapted.

32 comments
phamlance
phamlance

Is this young mother or supposed office worker for real?  I don't care how much money she has, or what coattails she rides on, her understanding of professionals' work/life challenges is as superficial as her writing.  C'mon, really Time?  Is this what passes for journalism nowadays?  Are you so desperate as to need this trash if there is a Zuckerberg label on it?

niclaroua
niclaroua

Does she honestly not understand that those of us who don't work for a billionaire social-media entrepreneur sibling are expected to actually do work at work?  How many people have employers who want to pay them for NOT doing their jobs?  Nice gig if you can get it, I guess!

yippeeK
yippeeK

So agism, self-importance and paternalistic condescension run in the Zuckerberg family.  Not surprising.

RustyS
RustyS

Few would want their image tagged, timestamped, and posted to the world by folks unknown.  The article (and favorable comments) assume this issue is all about the parents.  It's not.  It's about respect for the child's privacy.  How are children to learn not to trample the rights of others when their own parents trample theirs?

Oh, and since when was this true... or the conclusion completely naive? => "The time when your personal identity was a secret to your colleagues is over and done. And that is a good thing."

JosephFrankel
JosephFrankel

Most people are interested in Zuckerburg for the money he made, via Facebook With others ,naturally they want to know whether his mother, father,brother ,sisters have a finger in this popular money making pie, and then equate and evaluate them ? It is a prevailing mass social thinking mentality.

KrisCurtis
KrisCurtis

Have you ever considered the point of view that an endless stream of baby photos is tedious regardless of your or anyone else's profession?

daveloesch
daveloesch

There are days I feel old and reading these responses I wonder if I'm senile. I read the same article and took it as a glimpse into the psyche of a younger generation and what the future may hold. Apparently, few others did. (Not sure I read one positive review.)  Yet, I work with 20- and 30-somethings all day long (not a Zuckerburg btw) and I don't see many of them hunched over a tome for 8 hours or locked in a cubicle silently toiling away on their assigned tasks. So-called millenials may be derided as "attention challenged", but they have no choice! They have 100s of inputs on every issue (we had the Encyclopedia Brittanica) and they can't do it the way we did. Combine that with the fact that very few people argue that work and personal time is merging (how many 1AM emails/phone calls did you get from your boss 20 years ago? Heck, Friday afternoon and Monday morning used to be off limits,and now the entire weekend is free game.) I, for one (beauty of social media and acceptance of all comers), suspect Ms. Zuckerburg should not be thoroughly dismissed.

Despite some good points about presumption and free advertising!

HeidiThompson6
HeidiThompson6

That's so nice of Time Magazine to offer a free one page advertisement in their printed magazine and an article on their website written by the founder of Facebook’s sister on how important Facebook is. 

prismus
prismus

Truly pathetic and so full of hypocrisy!


lltl
lltl

As a woman, it's disappointing seeing only baby pics from intelligent, formerly socially engaged women. Sorry, but any woman can be a momma; it is not thought provoking, original or creative. Is it an important job? yes? Is it as interesting to others as the baby pic posters think it is? No.  I advocate for supporting mothers in the work place in any way, but that doesn't mean your co-workers need to be involved in your child's upbringing.  Maybe FB can create Mombook at let them fawn over each others offspring there.  And yes, I had to go back  to see if this was paid FB advertising. Am I really going to take advice on what to post on FB from Zuck's sister? I'm happy to see a lot of comments  agree with this. I also found it interesting that this Zuck advocates for more posting and overlapping work and personal life, yet it said she had a book called '...Untangling Our Wired Lives" And thanks for the remedial time management advise Randi. Boy, this one clearly got to me. So many talented writers could have contributed  to this space, but we go this instead.

harpoon
harpoon

shame on TIME magazine.  This 'opinion' piece should have been marked as a 'special advertisement'

stupidjerkface
stupidjerkface

Whew, good thing your logical conclusion so closely aligned with the financial motives of the company you're a major shareholder in!

artemis4
artemis4

This commentary piece demonstrates urban arrogance and misconceptions.  I expect that Ms. Zuckerberg has never lived life as a professional in a small city or community.  If she had, she would never pen words like "Executives who came of age in the pre-smartphone era take it as a given that you should have a separate professional persona that reads like a profile in Forbes and doesn't overlap with your personal life."  Executives and business people in smaller cities have never had the belief that they can maintain a professional persona separate from their personal lives.  When a city only has twenty pubs, fifteen restaurants, one high school, and one golf course, everyone of both pre- and post-smart phone eras in the business community knows who did what on Saturday night, who shot a great game, who is on vacation, and what people's children look like without increased social media sharing.  

Social media has made the world a smaller community for many living in large, urban centers and increased connectivity for those living in smaller, isolated areas.  It has not created any fully new phenomenons or ways of life, though.  

more.glitter
more.glitter

I have zero colleagues connected to my facebook account and it is completely locked down. The posts about my non-work life go there and my colleagues don't need to know about my family, my dog or my political affiliations.

CatRoberts
CatRoberts

A note for Randi's brother, Mark Zuckerberg, that he adheres to his FAcebook's Community Standards and put a stop to Anti-Cyber Bullying. So many times things are reported to Facebook that are slanderous, bullying, hateful... and they are not removed. Facebook need to step up and look out for the people who use their Social Media. As it is, I think posted photos over and over again of Babies and sharing them to the wider audience should be discouraged. The babies can not speak for themselves, and if you have your settings set to public then the whole of Facebook have access to your photos. The privacy settings on Facebook should be managed by the person using the account, not having to rely on your friends to choose your privacy for you. At least with Google you have sole control over what you share. My daughter when she comes of age to be using Facebook, will not be getting an account. The information that is shared on the newsfeed is not fit for younger chdn's eyes. Facebook is turning into an immoral social media site, where anything goes and anything is said.

NothingHereToSee
NothingHereToSee

Nice ideology, horrible to suggest as an actual practice.  We've already seen several cases where personally failing to separate the two leads to disastrous consequences.  Have a set of political views that your employer thinks might upset the client base?  Sure you can share, on your personal account with no connection to your job, but you might be on the way to the unemployment line.   We've even seen cases like in the recent convention fiasco where you can be unplugged, yet still get in trouble, when someone eavesdropping posts your private comments to a social media site and your employer objects to them.  There's the case where an anonymous blogger called a model fat, and google actually released the bloggers information so they could be sued for libel.   Until the real world can get used to the idea of social networking being the new norm, best to keep mouth shut, everything is on the record.

StartTheStartup
StartTheStartup

I totally agree with Randi.  I'd extend "baby" to kids, as well.  As the founder of and online photo site, How Fast They Grow (How Fast Time Flies) I found that people enjoyed sharing their own photos and looking at other peoples' kids.  Seeing my friends' children 'grow up' on Facebook and other digital media is my favorite part of the day.  Not sure you have to be a mom to agree, but it definitely helps. Life is too short not to enjoy what it's all about.

MaryBerger
MaryBerger

I simply cannot disagree more. I'm very sorry Ms. Zuckerburg, but your son's bipedalism, whether on sand or on carpeting, is neither adorable nor interesting, it simply confirms that fact that he is indeed a human being. Yes, I expect to see family vacation photos posted on facebook. I expect to see, and even enjoy, photos of Halloween costumes, birthday parties, and Christmas celebrations, but there is absolutely no enjoyment in viewing constant and repeated daily activites of normal life such as children yawning, eating, sleeping and "kissy" snuggle photos like the one which accompanies your article. I won't even begin to discuss the incredulous status updates and photos of Timmy's first poo in the potty. As with most things, moderation is the key to success. I can assure you that if you are posting as many photos of your child as your article suggests, many of your facebook friends have you on mute.    

MicheleMisurelliGillis
MicheleMisurelliGillis

Want the truth? You may not be able to handle it. Truth: (And not just for the author, but every parent out there) NOBODY cares about your kid. Really. Please don't kid yourself (no pun intended)

So if you are one of those people on Facebook who does noting but post updates and photos constantly about your kid, you're probably the only one looking at them because you have been blocked out of every ones news feed.  Don't lose your identity just because you are a parent. You are still a person, a friend. Don't forget to be one.

 

bluenoser85
bluenoser85

What about the privacy issue where facebook can sell our photos globally? Is that what this article is truly about? Trying to make more money ms.Zuckerberg? I encourage everyone to revisit the latest in facebook's privacy policy...you might think twice about tagging others in your photos in fear that Facebook will pilfer your image off someone's wall because they've got low privacy settings. ..all of a sudden your kid or family picture is running in a commercial and you're not getting any royalties for it!!!!

battmutler
battmutler

It's not about separating personal and professional. It's about the fact that you're posting pictures of someone who cannot consent to or veto their being posted. I wouldn't want my parents posting pictures of me as an infant! I am Facebook friends with my friends and colleagues, not their family. (And creating a separate account for your infant child - without their consent, obviously - is even worse!)

fopricha
fopricha

This is appalling. If you want to post three hundred pictures of "precious" be my guest. But how dare Ms. Zuckerberg presume she knows what's best for all of us. I have friends, real ones, and I like sharing intimate relationships with them. But I don't want to know everything about my colleagues' lives. We have a fundamental right to choose the level of intimacy we have with people. I don't want to share everything about my life with everyone else. But there is another level of this. I really don't care to see 50 pictures a day of colleagues' children and dogs and vacations. I'm not that interested and sometimes knowing every single detail of how you potty train "Precious" gets in the way of work. Frankly if I think you're a boor or a narcissist I'm likely to have a harder time respecting you at work.

jimmyjimmyjimmy111
jimmyjimmyjimmy111

Ummmm. NO. I have two adorable children but I don't shove them down people's throats 40 times a day. This is narcissistic at best and plain egotistical at worse. Stop it.  

aneesh060
aneesh060

It's hard to think of a more blatant advertisement masquerading as an intellectual exercise. What's next: the head of the high-fructose-corn-syrup association pontificating that consuming HFCS makes you a sweeter person?

Lastly, Ms. Zuckerberg is clearly hoping we forget about the many people who lose their jobs because of their Facebook posts.

yippeeK
yippeeK

@RustyS What do you expect in a society so primitive and ridden by superstition that it still does not deign to accord babies personhood until after they've left the womb? (I mean most of society still thinks the universe just "evolved" by chance so...)  What we see, and what you so inconveniently pointed out, is that in practice our society has a problem seeing babies as persons until much later in life than even birth.  Just as it did with the personhood of slaves, of Africans, of women, of immigrants, of the poor, and of many various and sundry other "minorities" society must come to grips with its demonic self-deceptions about the personhood of babies and remove the mental and spiritual blocks to understanding.  

yippeeK
yippeeK

@KrisCurtis Have you ever considered that placing someone's naked abs in your Avatar diminishes your credibility when you complain about tackiness?  

yippeeK
yippeeK

@daveloesch I rejected her supercilious generalizations about generations a priori. I object to agism as much as racism or discrimination on the basis of socio-economic or even educational background. That left me with nothing but her social commentary, her opinion that we should all give over our privacy to the people her brother sold his soul to.  Frankly, I've had more than enough of the Zuckerberg worldview imposed on me with no regard for my own opinions about it.   I confess I found as I read the article, gradually realizing all she wanted was to force her thoughts into my brain, I'm not that open to Ms. Zuck's social commentary either.  It figures that Time Magazine would find it necessary to blast her views into our faces.  They have a knack for finding the wrong angle on all the stories and issues they tackle.

RustyS
RustyS

@StartTheStartup Perhaps respect for children's privacy would be more parental and appropriate; write back when your kids reach the age of consent.

JosephFrankel
JosephFrankel

Delf self importance, is what is displayed, it is Time wasted on worthless rubbish. Randi's brother Mark should devote his life to useful creativity, and his sister should follow suit. It appears he wants to enlarge his client ale on FB from one billion to 5 billion, very avaricious cunning young fellow, and his sister watering us with her baby photos . They have to go in " for moderation. " as mentioned by you, and give up self importance and overt avariciousness, scores of millions of their users cannot afford the Internet charges used by their addiction to this social application, and a thought should be given for them by these folk.

RustyS
RustyS

@battmutler Absolutely!  If someone wants to post his/her pictures AFTER reaching the age of consent, fine.  Until then, parents might best show their children the respect they themselves expect from others.