do employers really look down on drinking and partying?

A reader writes:

I’m hoping you can settle a debate that a friend and I are having. I’m in grad school for a technology-related degree and am currently “cleaning up my act,” so to speak. I’ve recently deleted my Facebook account entirely, started a new Twitter account, made my Instagram private, and shut down some old blogs and such. I’ve done all this with the expectation that my future employers will look at my online activity, so anything that looks less than respectable should not be on the internet, anywhere. One thing that I consider less than respectable is any evidence of being drunk or partying. And what better way to not have evidence than to never drink too much! At least in my mind.

But one of my best friends argues that it’s not very important. She works for a lawyer (who she says is very successful at what he does) and witnesses business men and women partying quite frequently. She doesn’t say that getting drunk is respectable, but she says it all depends on if the consequences are worth it to you. She argues that “everybody’s doing it” and implies that it’s not a huge deal to party too much and then maybe show up hungover to work or take a sick day. I should mention that our debate started because she mentioned a professional friend of hers who is a regular pot smoker, so I am referring more to the whole partying mindset, not just getting drunk. My understanding from her is that drinking, smoking, and pot use are part of the business culture and I shouldn’t be so uptight.

My question for you is: what IS considered acceptable in the business world? Would an employer care very much if he saw a picture of me drunk on Twitter or (further down the road) if I admitted to being hung over at work? Is it really that common for professionals to party with coworkers or at home and then talk about it in the workplace? Are those types of people frowned upon? And especially related to pot use: is it really that common of a thing? I suppose I believed that coming into the business world would mean moving past people who party and that abandoning the party mindset was a “sacrifice” professionals make so their careers don’t suffer. What’s your take?

It depends on the office.

In general, the default is to assume that it’s not appropriate, professional, or okay to get drunk at work functions or show up hungover to work. Just how not okay depends on the office — in some it would raise eyebrows and affect how you were perceived (meaning that it’s something people would think about when considering you for high-profile projects and promotions), and in others you’d get Talked To and warned never to let it happen again upon penalty of your job.

But there are also some offices that are much more lax about this kind of thing. They’re not the majority, and they’re not usually what people have in mind when they talk about professional expectations, but they certainly exist.

(That said, you’re lumping things in together that don’t always go together. Being drunk at a work function is a different thing than low-key marijuana use in your private life — just like drinking wine or beer isn’t problematic on its own. It’s displays of excess and loss of control that cause problems.)

In answer to your specific questions:

* Yes, many employers would care if they saw a photo of you obviously drunk on Twitter. Holding a glass of wine is no big deal. Passed out, falling down, or otherwise obviously drunk is different and raises questions for many employers about maturity and judgment — not just because you reached that state, but because you posted photos of it (which signals that you think it’s awesome and brag-worthy, which is way more troubling for most employers than the fact that it happened in the first place).

* Yes, many employers would frown on you admitting being hungover at work. That says “I care about staying out drinking to excess on a work night more than I value being fully ready to work the next day.” And on top of that, talking about it at work says “I don’t even realize that’s a bad thing.”

* Yes, plenty of high-functioning, professional adults use marijuana on occasion. In fact, 49% of adults between ages 30 and 49 have used marijuana. Most of them don’t talk about it at work, because it’s illegal. (But it’s no more a “party mindset” than having a glass of wine on the weekend is, and at some point the law will change to reflect that.)

In response to your debate with your friend: Point out to your friend that while offices like the one she’s describing certainly exist, they’re not the norm.

And even when you do work in an environment like the one your friend describes, there are still very good reasons for not jumping in head-first: You can end up saying or doing things that you wouldn’t have said or done if you’d been sober, and which have an impact on your work relationships and how you’re perceived. And even if you assume all your coworkers are fully on board with your drunkenness, it can turn out later that one or more of them felt quite differently. (And if you’ve ever seen a drunk person who thought that everyone found them hilarious when in fact people found them obnoxious or worse, you know that it’s hard to self-assess this accurately.)

To be clear, I’m not saying you should never drink around coworkers. Have a glass of wine, sure. Have a beer or a margarita. It’s drunkenness — or anything approaching it, or its glorification — that’s the issue here.

{ 230 comments… read them below }

  1. hayling*

    I live in California, where pot smoking is more than common (and pretty easy to get since medical marijuana is in a legal gray area). I don’t smoke pot but don’t have anything against people who do. However I was considering a candidate once who had pics of herself smoking pot on her Facebook page. I was concerned about her maturity and that helped sway me towards the “immaturity” side. I thought it showed bad judgement to have it that openly online.

    1. Crow T. Robot*

      That’s a really good point. It’s not so much the activity itself that’s the problem, it’s the lack of judgement shown when you put a picture of it online.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I think it’s also much more damning (ie, likely to cost you an interview or a job offer) if you’re applying to a company than if you already work there and have
        a) some sense of the workplace norms/culture that Alison mentions
        b) already built your reputation as a solid worker, good producer

        In that case, people would be more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt than if they don’t really know you at all.

  2. Tiff*

    I agree with AAM’s assessment. Our organization (and industry) is fairly laid back, but there is a difference between “laid back” and “out of control”. If at any time you look or act out of control there will be consequences. And usually there is some balance. Entering a more professional environment, my goal would be to establish myself as a professional who knows how to have some fun rather than a fun girl who can still get to work on time, even if my eyes are still a bit bleary.

    1. Kate*

      Agreed, this is a good way to think of it. Professional first in the professional world.

    2. OhNo*

      This is a great way to put it. I often see it argued that you can only be one or the other – either a complete professional, or just a fun person. It’s definitely possible to do both, as long as you get them in the right order.

      Like you said, in the professional world, you have to put professionalism first. Otherwise people are going to question (whether consciously or subconsciously) your judgement, dedication, and fit for your job.

  3. Elysian*

    I entirely agree. I think most of the problem with having images or posts regarding these things “out there” is related not to the act itself, but the poor judgment that accompanies posting it on the Internet and/or glorifying it. I don’t hire people, but my brother-in-law started dating a girl once, and told us her name. I Google’d her and found her Twitter and it was largely filled with posts glorifying marijuana use. I didn’t really care about the behavior itself – based on my brother-in-law’s personality and history, I assumed she would also drugs – but I thought it was extremely poor judgment to post things so publicly and so easily traced to her that depict her not following the law.

    1. Sara*

      Yep…..I’ve seen instagram accounts where all they post is weed or glorify weed use and–ick–stacks of $$$ bills.

      Totally different than someone who occasionally smokes pot and has a good bank balance but doesn’t flaunt it

      1. Anon Pot Smoker*

        Going anon for this as it is a personal soap box issue of mine.

        I am a daily pot smoker. Have been for years. But you would never know from looking at me because I do not fit the average “lazy bum” stereotype of people who smoke weed. I manage to show up to work on time, hold down a full-time job, raise a family and generally be a productive member of society. It can be done.

        However, I sure as heck don’t post pictures of myself smoking weed online. Frankly, I am very in the closet on this even though I live in a state where marijuana is now sold and consumed legally. I haven’t even “come out” to my own family.

        And frankly, I’ve worked with MANY people, most significantly older than myself, who loved to come in to work hungover and brag about how much they drank over the weekend. I’ve always found that really distasteful (and yes, I have gone to work hungover myself. Didn’t feel the need to brag about it though, much in the same way I don’t talk about smoking weed at work either).

        1. Another Anon*

          Today is the first day for legal sales of pot in shops here in my state. I used to smoke a little back in the day, but haven’t for years. However, now that it’s legal….I’m kind of tempted. It’s a great way to relax.

          But it sure wouldn’t be going on my Facebook!

  4. Stephanie*

    I agree with Alison’s take. Also, your friend mentions that she works for an attorney. I do believe lawyers have a higher rate of substance abuse than the population as a whole (I’ll have to dig around for this statistic), so that may be some of her thinking. Plus, a successful attorney will have to do more socializing and schmoozing, some of which will involve drinking.

    1. Elysian*

      My husband was told this on “friends and family day” at my law school. He sat in a lecture hall and they talked to him (and people’s parents, etc) about the high rates of substance abuse in the legal profession. He was very freaked out. I guess that lawyers have the “three martini lunch” stereotype for a reason.

    2. littlemoose*

      The profession unfortunately has higher-than-average rates of substance abuse, depression, and divorce. There are some great jobs and firms out there, but the profession can be demanding and take a personal toll. So the OP’s friend’s lawyer boss may not have the same perspective on this issue as the broader working world.

    3. MK*

      On the othe hand, I find it odd that the legal profession would have such a lax attitude about smoking pot, simply because it is an illegal act. Making the fact that you do it essentially means that you publicly confessed you commited a criminal offence, which can have much more serious reprecussions for a lawyer, since it affects their licence to practice. Are lawyers in the U.S. not required to not have a criminal record?

      1. MR*

        Good points, but keep in mind that judges and district attorneys are nearly all lawyers. They aren’t going to go after their own kind for such ‘low level’ offenses.

        Much like a cop will never receive a speeding ticket, lawyers will get passes on this type of stuff.

        1. Mallory*

          A fellow book-club member of mine (who happens to be a first-grade teacher) was reported for smoking pot by a neighbor who saw her through her open window-blinds.

          The judge who heard her case let her off pretty lightly and told her, “The next time you do that, for God’s sake, pull down the window shades!”

      2. PK*

        The more one is involved in law, the more one feels exempt from it. See also: politicians

      3. Elysian*

        Lawyers can have a criminal record in the US without losing their license. There is a committee that evaluates such things and determines whether the offense is serious enough to impact the person’s ability to practice or whether it reflects poorly on the profession as a whole. You could lose your license (or be prevented from getting one) for a crime, but pot smoking usually wouldn’t be bad enough (as long as you’re not lying about it). See also: DUIs, underage drinking, alcoholism, addictions to cocaine, etc. Like Stephanie says, the legal profession has pretty high rates of substance abuse, so they don’t come down particularly hard on those offenses and try to focus more on getting people help.

    4. Undercover Report from the Higher Ed Front*

      I work in a university department with architects, and our development officer returned from a university-wide meeting of her peers where one topic was the amount spent from private foundation funds on alcohol.

      The top three schools/departments for alcohol consumption:
      1. Architecture
      2. Engineering
      3. Law

      Our tiny department of about 20 faculty members beat out the entire school of arts and sciences, and they have I-don’t-know-how-many departments. The architects can flat put it away, but nobody comes in bragging about it; they just get right back to business the next day.

      1. Undercover . . .*

        Which I just realized are all the professional programs that, as someone pointed out up- (or was it down-) thread traditionally have a schmoozing-with-clients culture.

  5. De Minimis*

    Maybe it’s just something about professional services, accounting can have a similar culture with lots of drinking at events, informal happy hours to build team relationships, etc.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’d agree (I used to be in the legal field). There’s a lot of wining and dining to get business and it can be pretty stressful to deal with clients.

    2. MaryMary*

      I’ve worked in consulting and insurance, and I’d agree. Even when I wasn’t in a client-facing role, a lot of internal team building included at least the option to drink. Not just happy hours, but baseball games, picnics, etc.

    3. Natalie*

      Sales and brokerage, too – our property management staff spends a fair amount of time drinking with brokers.

    4. YoungProfessional*

      I work in finance and drinking is okay as long as it doesn’t affect job performance. If someone shows up a little tired on a weekday it’s just laughed off as “Oh you had a great night!” If it’s a frequent occurrence there’s a problem though…

    5. EE*

      I can confirm that part of the way Big 4 firms try to distract their trainees from the nastiness of their existence is by frequently having nights out where you are encouraged to get wasted because of All The Fun We’re Having So Lucky To Be Working With Such Young Party People.

  6. Julia*

    I take some issue with the implied acceptance behind this statement: “In fact, 49% of adults between ages 30 and 49 have used marijuana. Most of them don’t talk about it at work, because it’s illegal. ”

    I used it a couple of times in my youth (usually under the influence of alcohol). Perhaps this stat is related to using it recently – if so, my point is meaningless. But being in that age group, answering that I’ve used it doesn’t mean that I find it acceptable. I am pretty much anti-drug use while still being somewhat pro-legalization. My belief is that long term use makes you stupid and I would definitely have reservations about someone posting pictures of themselves getting high or talking about it regardless of the legality of it.

    I do know of some colleagues that partake occasionally – my opinion of them hasn’t really changed but if I didn’t know someone and have a lot of confidence in their abilities, it would definitely color my thoughts about them.

    And, in this incredibly competitive environment, is it really worth the risk?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Also keep in mind that many employers drug test, particularly in industries like mine (construction). One of our big divisions is HQ’d in Colorado. You are not allowed to test positive for pot working for us there.

      1. Stephanie*

        Defense seems to be big on drug testing as well despite marijuana being quasi-legal here (Arizona). Recreational use is illegal, but medicinal is legal and one can get a prescription pretty easily for nebulous and self-reported conditions like back pain or anxiety.

        Someone help me with this one, but I’ve heard part of the rationale behind drug testing is for lower insurance rates as a drug-free workplace.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I’m sure insurance rates are an incentive, but I’d like to believe that genuine safety concerns are part of the reason for testing in industries like construction and defense. I’m not out there with a crane setting a multi-million dollar piece of equipment, but I want the guy who is to be drug-free, well-rested, and well-trained. I know the presence of a substance in someone’s system does not mean they’re currently impaired, but if the current standards are what we have to use to ensure safety, then I support them.

          1. Stephanie*

            I agree that safety is a legit concern if you’re designing or building things that could kill people. However, I don’t think a one-off urine (or hair or blood or cheek swab) test is particularly effective as those just catch those who are truly addicts or not quick enough to figure out how to beat a drug test (and a lot don’t screen for alcohol).

            This is probably kind of invasive, but I think a more effective system would be medical testing like what pilots use if the company is that concerned about substance use.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yep, performance testing is a better way to go if you’re concerned about employees being in some way incapacitated during work time. That will catch it if they’re under the influence of alcohol and legally prescribed drugs too, or even being compromised by something like extreme fatigue, and it’ll catch it in real time, which drug tests don’t do.

              If you’re concerned about what employees do on the weekends, on their own time, in the privacy of their own homes, that’s not an employer’s business.

              1. Brett*

                One big factor for construction and defense is that so much of their revenue comes for tax dollars. And there are always “concerned” taxpayers who will make life hell for the employee and employer if they discover someone “on the public dole” who is using drugs or sometimes even just alcohol. In their minds, you are using there money to buy vices they oppose. I had an ATF complaint lodged against me through my employer just for organizing a neighborhood trivia night where alcohol was allowed! I had to go through a preliminary investigation complete with an agent interview, because one person did not like the idea that a “public servant” was connected to an event where people drank.

                1. some1*

                  “on the dole” refers to people on govt assistance, not people who work for the govt.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ some1 – I suspect the sort of people who file ATF complaints over a trivia event with alcohol don’t see much of a difference between welfare and government employment.

                3. Xay*

                  That mentality is why Florida passed laws requiring drug testing of state employees and welfare recipients.

                4. Julia*

                  LOL – considering that some people think ATF sounds like a good start, I find it somewhat ironic that someone would be upset by Alcohol at an ATF event.

                5. Anna*

                  That’s less about the actual concern, and more about the person who filed the complaint. Do they really think government employees should never drink? What about at weddings? Should public servants turn down invitations because alcohol might be there? Be concerned if the public servant is operating heavy equipment in the morning and you saw them seriously trashed the night before, not if on their off time they’re participating in an event where there’s alcohol.

            2. AnotherAlison*

              Well, we have other controls in place for safety. Recordables are a huge deal. If you have higher than the industry average, you aren’t going to win work. If there is a recordable, the parties involved get tested then, in addition to their new hire testing. I’ve had to do a test just to go on a job site, even though I’ve worked here for years. I don’t know what the airlines use, but there have been highly publicized drunk pilot cases fairly recently, so I’m not sure it’s bulletproof either. : )

            3. J*

              Also important to note that many drugs (including alcohol, meth, cocaine, and morphine but NOT marijuana) only stay in the system 1-3 days, so drug testing ultimately isn’t terribly effective in catching those users.

        2. Cat*

          If so, chalk that up as reason no. 8,789 that having employers provide healthcare is a terrible system.

        3. aebhel*

          IDK, my father works in defense, and he smokes a lot of weed, and it’s never had much of an effect on his professional life.

        4. EngineerGirl*

          It isn’t just that. I know that our managers forbid us (yes, forbid) to return to work after having any wine or beer at company celebrations. You had to wait for the next day to start work again. The reason was simple – your judgment is impaired with drugs in your system. Our work was such that even a small mistake could have catastrophic consequences. Most jobs aren’t like that, but ours was.

          1. Lucy*

            Same- I work at a hospital, and even though I am in a strictly administrative, non-clinical, non-patient facing role- we are not permitted to return to the office after having a drink- even if you forgot your bag or something.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            This is also state law in some places, employees are not allowed to work under the influence. I don’t know if this is like driving where there is a BAC limit or not.

          3. Anna*

            Yes, but drugs in your system (like it would be if this was Monday and you smoked weed on Saturday) is not the same as currently under the influence.

        5. MT*

          I work for a company that is involved with transporation. And we are required by law to drug test.

        6. anon-2*

          Actually – in the early days of the industrial revolution – recreational drug use was ENCOURAGED by companies. Stoned employees are happier and tend to forget about the misery of working at a loom 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.

          Comes along workman’s compensation – if someone gets hurt on the job, the employer’s gotta pay. The mindset of having stoners at the switch changed considerably.

      2. Sara*

        This is an interesting point, I know lots of industries where it would make sense….

        I worked for an accounting company and they said they did drug testing although I never eally saw it happening (I was seasonal). That really didnt’ make much sense to me…..the chances of ruining someone’s tax return by being high are pretty nil

        1. Malissa*

          Actually the risk is in activities that are higher indicators for fraud. Drug and alcohol abuse are two of the highest factors.

      3. Celeste*

        Ditto for nuclear. You are subject to random drug testing and failure to immediately go take the test upon notice is considered a discipline issue. The fact is, some employers make it their business what you do in your private life, and you can risk your livelihood taking a chance on it.

    2. jmkenrick*

      “And, in this incredibly competitive environment, is it really worth the risk?”

      I think it REALLY depends where you are. I’m not sure what you mean by implied acceptance (of course, you can have done something and still not approve) but I think Alison is pointing out the ubiquity of marijuana use.

      Which is to say that, increasingly, smoking marijuana occasionally is thought of similarly to getting drunk occasionally and doesn’t necessarily reflect an out-of-control partying mindset.

    3. Zillah*

      Agreed. I think there are a lot of things that a sizable number of adults have done that they don’t necessarily agree with. For example, I wouldn’t be shocked if a huge percentage of adults have, at some point in their lives, had unprotected sex when they didn’t want to get pregnant. That doesn’t mean that they approve of it – it just means that they did it at some point. A lot of adults have also smoked cigarettes at some point, but that doesn’t imply acceptance of it, either.

      I mean, I do think that a lot of adults do think that marijuana should be legalized, but I don’t think that the categories align anything close to perfectly, and I also think that there’s a difference between being pro-legalization and being non-judgmental. Like Julia, I’m pro-legalization, but I am going to judge someone who talks a lot about it or does it regularly (and do the same thing for alcohol, for the record).

    4. Sydney*

      You would be surprised how many successful, ambitious people smoke pot regularly. They just don’t tell you.

    5. Koko*

      If you’re only smoking in your home there’s little to no risk that anyone at work is going to find out. Us successful, gainfully-employed drug users are usually smart enough to sniff out the teetotalers and know better than to mention our drug use to those folks.

      Just like I don’t tell colleagues that I’m polyamorous or heteroflexible until I get a clear read on their open-mindedness to alternative sexualities. Much like my drug use, my relationships have no bearing on my job performance, but I understand the need to be cautious because sometimes TPTB are prejudiced.

      1. Koko*

        And also, FWIW, I have specifically sought out workplaces that emphasize performance-based and results-based management, both because I don’t want to work on a team full of slackers who skate by doing their duties without actually achieving anything worthwhile, and because those kinds of places are better (of course no place is perfect) about not letting personal biases influence advancement decisions, as managers are expected to be able to justify promotions/raises with concrete performance metrics.

  7. Jen RO*

    I work in one of those relaxed environments and, well… it depends on what side of the equation you’re on. A candidate who posted sleeping-in-a-ditch-drunk photos on Twitter would be approached with a lot of caution (drink all you want, but really, on Twitter?). Once you’re hired and you’ve proved you are a reliable worker, most people in my company won’t care. Actually, some of the best employees get very, very drunk at every company party, and that hasn’t stopped their career from advancing. (But they spent years establishing their reputation and they are very good at their jobs; a new employee might tarnish their reputation beyond repair.) If we’re talking getting drunk on your own time, I would view bragging about it as immature, and I would be on the lookout for other signs of immaturity. No one would bat an eye at “regular” drinking (a couple of beers after works). Actually, if you drop by the local pub on a weekday, there will be several tables filled with my coworkers.

    Showing up hungover at work might be OK on special occasions (for years, our company Christmas party was on Thursday… the following Friday was never productive), but if it happened on a daily basis it would be a big problem.

    1. Bwmn*

      I completely agree with this.

      This is a complete case of “learn your industry” and particularly if you’re new, being cautious until you learn how far it extends (does it pertain to just your office, your national industry, international industry?). I work in one of those “heavy drinking” industries. Having work events with moderate to heavy drinking, talking about social heavy drinking, and very very occasionally showing up to work a little “rough” is all within semi-normal bounds. That being said, talking about personal pot use I would consider to not be industry standard, though talking about drug use/policy in the abstract is more liberal.

      While I feel confident about saying this about where I work and my industry now – I definitely didn’t right away. And even though I feel confident in having a general understanding industry wide, if I started a new job within my industry I’d hang back a bit to figure out if the organization was within ‘norm’ or more conservative.

  8. The Real Ash*

    I agree with everything the OP has done, except I can’t see the reason to entirely delete your Facebook. Why not just have a plain one to stay in touch with people (and somehow find the willpower to not post embarrassing photos of yourself or dumb statuses) and lock it down? I can see nuking an old one and starting again, but otherwise that sounds a little like overkill to me. But that’s a personal opinion.

    1. Meg Murry*

      I’ve seen a trend in some of my younger friends who are leaving college or grad school and job searching to change their facebook name to First Middle instead of First Last, and to use a separate email for facebook than for job searching. I don’t know if this is advice being given out at colleges somewhere, or if its just become a thing people do thinking it helps keep their Facebook info from being easily accessed via a quick search.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hmmm, interesting. I’ve had teacher friends do that (or use maiden names) just so students and parents can’t find them.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I have social worker friends who have done that, and one who changed the settings of who could add her after a service user tried it.

        2. SuperAnon*

          I have several friends across a variety of industries who obscure their names to make it harder for people to find them.

          1. Ezri*

            I apparently have a ridiculously common name, so if you just search it on Facebook you get at least three pages of people who aren’t me (I’m not terribly active anyway, since I primarily use it for family and old high school friends).

            That being said, I’ve still set my profile to the most private / secure / difficult to find settings out there. I don’t post anything inappropriate or career-affecting, I just don’t like the idea of anyone trawling Facebook for info on my personal life. I have a pretty easy-to-find linkedIn for professional networking information.

      2. bridget*

        You can also change the spelling of your name so that a letter or two uses a different alphabet- like use a backward “e” in “bridget.” It makes your facebook account pretty much unsearchable, but people you send friend invitations to can easily tell who you are, and so mutual friends looking to add you as well. I’m pretty sure Facebook no longer has just a general privacy option where you can make it so that you don’t show up in search results, or they keep adjusting it, or something.

      3. LibrarianJ*

        I have my Facebook set like this — originally it was just to avoid being found easily (because I worked with the public at the time), but now it is more about keeping my profile hidden from the students I work with. My Facebook was scrubbed clean years ago (and never had anything particularly incriminating on it, anyway), but since I’m fairly young there’s something about my students being able to see anything from college that makes me uncomfortable.

        All of my teacher friends do this as well, but it’s not always effective. My fiance’s students managed to track him down anyway and have been badgering him about even the very small amount of information they’ve been able to see (a woman in his profile picture; his middle name; etc.).

    2. Elysian*

      I thought that Facebook made it really hard to delete an old account and start again clean – I think they keep your profile after you delete it just in case you change your mind or every come back.

      Either way, I’m a fan of deleting Facebook. I have had very few positive interactions with Facebook and many, many awkward and horrible ones. My life is generally better when Facebook isn’t a part of it.

      1. Eric*

        There’s a difference between deactivating your account and deleting it. I’ve done both, and when I came back to Facebook after deleting it, there was no way to restore my previous profile.

        Now, with that said, do they ACTUALLY delete it? Probably not.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I also recently deleted my Facebook. The only reason I really held onto it for the past year or so was because my fitness groups communicated on there. Otherwise, it had really turned into something where I was just reading crap posted by people I hadn’t seen in real life since the mid-1990s. I just text message with people I am actually friends with.

    4. Mints*

      Yeah, my facebook is personal, and I have privacy settings to hide it from search. And if by coincidence, a hiring manager and I had a friend in common, they’d be able to see some things (past profile pictures, check ins to public places, friend list) but 99% of my statuses are friends only, and I have things I’d like to keep hidden (rants, political posts, mean jokes). Although, my mom is an intermittent facebook user as well, and I don’t have pictures of me being fall over drunk or sexual innuendo or anything too far.

      LinkedIn is my most public profile, and I have friends who have sort of professional twitter accounts in addition to LinkedIn, while keeping facebook a private channel

      It’s about finding balance (just like alcohol!) you don’t need to cut it out completely, but use it wisely

      1. MaryMary*

        I know Facebook privacy is tricky, but I’ve gone the same route. I’ve used the privacy settings so that my page isn’t visible when googled. I also don’t post anything inappropriate or controversial, and all my friends are smart enough not to post anything problematic on my timeline. I have a twitter account that doesn’t use my full name for snarky or political comments, and a LinkedIn profile for public view.

      2. Shell*

        Yeah, ditto. My Facebook privacy is set on max, and even then I don’t post anything inappropriate. Usually things like what I cooked, computer problems, ways I’ve injured myself, etc. Hell, sometimes I wonder about the “ways I’ve injured myself” posts. (I have a tendency to injure myself–usually not severely, thank goodness–in hilarious and interesting ways, and it’s become a running joke for just about everyone who knows me, so I post them to make myself feel better about the injury and to amuse my friends. Some days I wonder if an employer would raise eyebrows over it and wonder about their insurance premiums, though.)

    5. Onymouse*

      I also wonder if employers would try to keep “digging” if they couldn’t find anything, rather than if they just saw an innocuous profile and checked it off on their list.

  9. Joy*

    Yeah, in the legal industry drinking is almost expected, but getting drunk in front of coworkers is more YMMV and being hungover at work is going to have a bad effect on your work, since it’s so detail-heavy and involves starting at a computer screen.

    I’m actually glad my firm has a lot of parents with young kids, even among the associates, because it means that there’s no expectation to go out drinking after a long day – and if I do want to party, it won’t be with co-workers.

    Alison – I’d love to hear your take on the issue of casual, low-key, at-home marijuana use. I’ve always wanted to try it but never have, and I sort of assumed when I started law school that it would (should) never happen – that I’d missed my window to experiment, basically. But I do know young lawyers who indulge sometimes, and I’m almost positive that law firms don’t do drug testing. I’m a worrywart though, so I’m really hesitant to try, despite all of that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Philosophically, I think it’s no one’s business but yours, and I don’t see any difference between someone having a glass of wine and using marijuana (other than that the law wants to arrest and imprison you for one, which is nonsensical). I’d just say make an educated decision for yourself. The best thing any of us can do is to do our research, consider the possible ramifications in your life (legally, professionally, etc.), think through your own principles (factoring in the value you place on things like freedom and privacy), and then decide what makes sense.

      1. Joy*

        Thanks for the good advice. I’ll think on it and enjoy a glass of wine in the meantime!

      2. Lisa*

        The other thing to think about – maybe under” ramifications” – is where you’d be buying the pot you’re planning to smoke, and who is the purchase going to put you in contact with? I quit doing recreational drugs in my early 20s when I got my first professional job because, while I was strictly an occasional-weekends potsmoker, I was really uncomfortable buying dope/hanging out with dope dealers. Way too easy for bad things to happen in that kind of company, and if they had, my professional career would have been over. So if you can buy pot safely & at least semi-legally, you’re good; you may want to reconsider if it means making your way into potentially-risky situations.

        1. TK*

          This is a good point. I live in a city with one of the highest crime rates in the country for cities its size, but one newspaper columnist pointed out your odds of being a victim of violent crime (as opposed to property crime, which is a different story) going down hugely if you never involve yourself with illegal drugs. Violent crime unrelated in any way to illegal drugs is pretty negligent even here. And the columnist pointed out specifically that “never involving yourself with illegal drugs” does indeed also include upper-middle-class people who live in what they consider “safe” neighborhoods but buy marijuana to smoke on the weekends.

          I don’t really have strong opinions on drug legalization either way, but this is definitely something worth considering.

        2. Not using my usual pseud for obvious reasons*

          I had this concern and stopped buying marijuana after college because I didn’t want to be associated with the usual dealers of the stuff when it might in some way come back to my employer.

          I now live in a state where it’s legal and I can buy from a regulated store, where I’m less concerned about the “hanging out with dealers” stereotype (yeah, someone might notice me in the store and report me, but it’s less likely), and that’s increased my likelihood of using. But I’m still going to use it as I would a glass of wine: on my own time, in moderation, and such that it won’t impact my work life.

      3. zillinith*

        Alison, I always really appreciate it when you support the normalization of recreational marijuana use on the blog, it’s one of the things that makes your advice feel so much more relevant.

        (I’m senior management at a pretty relaxed non-profit (my boss knows I smoke pot, I know she occasionally does as well) and if it ever seems feasible and appropriate I try to disclose my own use to my peers. I know I’m insulated from professional damage and so I want to do what I can to contradict the stereotypes about professionals who are also pot smokers.)

      4. CC*

        Philosophically, maybe not. But being in the same room as somebody drinking a glass of wine doesn’t trigger an asthma attack and make my body try to cough up a lung.

        Consider, if you’re smoking, who you’re exposing to the smoke. Whether that’s tobacco or marijuana.

        1. Yogi Josephina*

          I’m 100% pro-legalization, but I honestly have to say I don’t really agree with the “pot = wine or beer” analogy. I love wine, I drink almost a glass a day. But when I sit down with my glass of wine, it’s not to “relax,” get impaired, or feel different – it’s for a much more gourmet reason, really. I like the taste and the ritual, but getting buzzed is not part of it. I personally feel absolutely nothing after one drink.

          When you sit down with a joint, however, there’s no other reason you’re doing it other than to get high. Period, full stop. You’re doing it to alter your mind. I’m personally not a fan of that/I dislike being around intoxicated behavior so I don’t partake (and this includes being around excessive drinking too).

          Mind you, I don’t really care enough about it if others do (I live in Washington State after all), but the comparison of pot being just like having wine, beer or a cocktail has never sat totally right with me.

          My .02.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But a lot of people do drink to get buzzed, and we’re comparing intoxicating substances.

            For what it’s worth, though, according to the science, marijuana is safer than alcohol, so the laws on this are really weird (which I know you said you agree with too).

            1. Yogi Josephina*

              This is true – alcohol is far more violent and withdrawal can absolutely kill you. Then there’s the whole medical side of it which I myself would probably partake in if needed. But for the rest of it, I defer to my Washingtonian neighbors. Ha :)

    2. Student*

      If you have children at home, please consider the impact on them. My parents were heavy tobacco smokers, and it made my brother and I miserable as young children. Second-hand smoke of all types is bad for children’s health, and they should have an environment free of it.

      Also, your children WILL be interrogated about your home drug use at school by police, teachers, and their friends. They WILL find out about it. You WILL need to deal with that somehow, preferably in a way that doesn’t teach your children that cops-are-the-enemy, or lie-to-your-teachers-to-cover-for-your-parents. My parents were big on those kinds of lessons in our childhood, and it prevented me from reporting more serious crimes (including violence against myself and my younger brother) as I went through school.

      1. alwaysbenicetotechsupport*

        it sounds like your parents were abusive and/or addicts. i’m really sorry you and your brother were subjected to this kind of ‘parenting’. : (

        people continuously smoke cigarettes, one right after another, and that smell is something terrible that can hang around for days. marijuana smoke doesn’t have the same lasting stench.

        also, chain-smoking marijuana would render you non-functioning, would not be considered ‘occasional recreational use’, and would certainly qualify as ‘bad parenting’ if it’s around your children.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Smoke is still bad for you, and especially for kids, no matter what kind of smoke it is. Better to keep it away from them.

          And sorry, but pot DOES stink. It absolutely reeks. I couldn’t stand it even when I smoked tobacco.

          1. Ezri*

            I have to agree, the smoke / smell is particularly rough when you’ve never been a user. In my old apartment, the neighbors right above us were heavy pot smokers – not constantly, but when they got going they smoked a lot. Which doesn’t bother me at all on a personal level, except that our bathrooms had some connected ventilation and the smell just wafted into our place for hours at a time. It made me feel dizzy and nauseous and caused quite a bit of awkwardness with the office and our neighbors. We ended up having to shut that bathroom door and barricade it with a towel for the rest of the time we lived there just to keep the smell out.

            Once again – your home, your rules, in my mind, but I get really upset when it ends up in my personal space. All I ask is that you smoke responsibly, and we’ll have no trouble. :3

          2. Felicia*

            I hate the smell of pot sooo much. It makes me feel sick and it really does linger. I have nothing against people who choose to smoke pot sometimes, but it’s part of being responsible to not force people who didn’t make that choice to smell it.

          3. Zillah*

            Completely, totally agreed. I actually find the smell of weed to be more repulsive than cigarette smoke, and I am no fan of cigarette smoke. It never fails to trigger a migraine, and more recently it’s started to make my throat close up. A lot of people who don’t use find the smell to be just as disgusting and toxic as the smell of cigarette smoke.

            Good rule of thumb: apply the same common sense and courtesy when smoking pot as you would if you were smoking a cigarette.

        2. Gem*

          Having lived next door to pot smokers I can assure you it smells worse then tobacco smoke and definitely hangs around. Like any other smoker users just seem unable to detect it.

          1. Anonana*

            +1 Absolutely. My downstairs neighbours like to smoke up and where does the smoke from their open window go? Directly upstairs into our window. It reeks horribly, much worse than tobacco smoke, and lingers just as badly. Any time a pot smoker has told me it doesn’t linger or isn’t as bad as tobacco smoke, I laugh–it’s so blatantly untrue.

      2. Anonfornow*

        So important. I hate to be all “think of the children!”, but I consider it irresponsible parenting to engage in illegal activity, even if you think the law that makes it illegal is stupid. People DO know (yeah, sorry, you do smell like pot no matter how much you think you don’t, especially to someone sensitive to the smell like I am), and you put your kids on the spot by doing it. While I have no interest in partaking myself, I don’t care if my friends smoke pot…until they bring it to where my kids live. I don’t care if you’re not smoking it right now, I don’t care that it’s safer than cigarettes, keep it out of my house, and if you bring it to my home, you’re disrespectful at minimum. I take the same tack at work- I don’t care if you party at home, but if you make me suffer for it via increased workload or damaged reputation for my team, I will hold it against you.

      3. Mallory*

        I was fairly irritated earlier this past school year when my seventh-grader came home from school and informed me that I am an alcoholic because I drink a couple glasses of wine in the evenings. I tried to reason with him and explain that being an alcoholic means that the person can’t control their drinking (my dad is an alcoholic, so I know what one is). He said, nope, he’d learned in school that anyone who has a drink every night is an alcoholic, and furthermore, he said, he’d learned that people who deny that they’re alcoholics are — wait for it — alcoholics! I just gave up . . .

      4. TheSnarkyB*

        I’m sorry, I know this post is from yesterday but I just have to pipe up here. Student, I’m really sorry that that was your experience growing up.
        That said, I really take exception to this point being made in this manner bc it seems like most of this conversation/comment section is about pot as an illegal substance and alcohol as a legal one, and therefore about comparing them. What you’re cautioning against is so true of alcoholic parents as well – I get your points about smoke specifically, but it’s so much more common for parents to be hard core alcoholics and damage their childrens’ lives than for pot – I just want people to understand that if we’re comparing the damage done by one vs. the other, this comment isn’t the most demonstrative. Parents who chain smoke cigarettes should be aware of the same smoke-related risks, and as pot becomes more and more legal, the “don’t trust the cops” aspect of what you’re saying becomes irrelevant. Regardless, it’s irresponsible for parents to teach their children that for that reason (whereas I’d say there are ok reasons to teach your kids that, and explain to them the nuances of fearing police – ie being black), and it’s not ok for parents to inundate their kids’ lungs with harmful substances, and it’s not ok for parents to be dangerously negligent for any reason. You shouldn’t have had to go through that – no kid should – but it isn’t very pot-specific.

    3. bridget*

      Joy, I figure I missed my window as well once I went to law school. For me, it wasn’t so much whether my firm would care or not. I am more worried about the chance I would run into legal trouble about it. I recognize the chances are almost vanishingly small, but I feel like my bar license is much safer if I have a completely clean criminal record – no warrants, no arrests, no convictions. I might still avoid my license being revoked because it isn’t a crime of moral turpitude or goes to my honesty, but if you have a conviction of any kind, the office of professional conduct is likely to get involved in some way, and for me the potential benefits of intoxication seem to be hugely outweighed by what could be at stake.

      1. Joy*

        Yes, that’s a larger consideration, and given what I know about myself, I’ll probably wait until pot is legal or I’m a retiree to try it. It’s not the end of the world, just makes me a little regretful that I was so straight-laced in undergrad.

        And to all the above posters, no I don’t have any kids, and when I do (if I do), I’m already planning to make sure they don’t have to keep any secrets for me or the rest of the family. I was raised in a family that cared more about its reputation than its kids, and that was definitely a hard way to grow up.

        1. Alice*

          Just don’t do what that one columnist for the .. New York Times(?) did? Eat way too many edibles (rather potent) without really learning about it (the lag time before the pot hits your system, in her particular example). Also, doing it alone in a hotel room? take a guide, for pete’s sake, lady!

          Like drinking alcohol the first time, you really should 1) start slow and 2) not be alone. It would make me personally feel a lot more comfortable, than if I decided to puff up by myself. Especially if there is the chance somehow of getting pot that’s tainted (extreme example). Then the friend knows that me seeing yellow spotted elephants should -not- happen.

    4. KrisL*

      I know someone who came very close to flunking out of high school because he started on pot and basically his entire life for a while after that revolved around pot. Fortunately a teacher helped him pull out of it.

      I worry too much too. I’d be afraid to try it.

  10. Stayc*

    I think it’s a little extreme to delete a whole Facebook account, but I’ve gone back and deleted what were perhaps questionable posts/pictures. I think that after graduating college, employers probably don’t really care about your social media use (though I’d be careful about illegal activities, i.e. pot use, underage drinking, etc.)

    At my company, people don’t really care if you toe the tipsy/drunk line as long as you aren’t ridiculous. And generally, the higher the position, the more leeway you have. CEO falling on the dance floor trying to imitate the Gangnam style dance? Never brought up again. Receptionist getting sloppy drunk at the same event? Yeah, people remember that. But as long as you aren’t stupid (hitting on a co-worker, planning on drinking and driving while obviously intoxicated) no one really cares.

  11. Joy*

    Also wanted to add +1 to the comments saying that posting pictures is arguably the unprofessional part of all of this. If your weekend fun isn’t affecting your productivity at work and you’re not out with coworkers who disapprove, then the only way it could reflect poorly on you is if you post pictures where you’re clearly drunk.

    1. Eden*

      IME, it’s far more likely that your friends are posting those pictures than you, the party animal. And while you can of course untag yourself, it’s difficult to demand from friends that they remove the pictures entirely. So you can feel vulnerable there, even if you aren’t the one putting the pictures up.

      Not to say that I condone getting smashed but let me say it’s happened to me on the rare occasion, and I was horrified to discover photos that I couldn’t expunge.

      1. Mints*

        That seems mean to me! I mean, there’s a gray area between red faced and squinty vs actually passed out, but I can’t picture my friends posting a picture that made me horrified. I’d consider defriending someone who wouldn’t take down a horribly embarrassing picture (both online and for real)

        1. Eden*

          Sometimes, friends think the photos are funny, and since you aren’t actually passed out, don’t know what the problem is. As you say, it’s a gray area; everyone has a different threshold of what they find horribly embarrassing. It isn’t because people are mean, necessarily, but you can’t assume everyone shares your viewpoint.

          My only reason for saying this is that you might not be the one posting the pictures, and the response to requests to take them down might take a “lighten up, they’re funny” kind of turn. So I understand why some might feel more secure not having a FB presence of any kind.

          1. Zillah*

            Sure, but if someone says they’re uncomfortable with a picture you posted of them, I think it’s pretty rude (and, in some cases, outright mean) to refuse to take it down just because your threshold is different, you know?

          2. TootsNYC*

            Your having a Facebook account will have no bearing on whether pics of you being drunk are posted online. Only “not getting -that- drunk” will have affect on it.

            Now, the pic of you passed out on the sofa may not be as easily found, but it may be there. And it may be findable.

            So if you want to manage your reputation, the effective course is to manage your behavior.

      2. Cathi*

        On the other hand, not having a Facebook account doesn’t limit this danger. Friends can still be posting pictures of you in embarrassing situations, just now you’ll never know.

        1. Laura*

          Yes, but it is rare that they would put your full name – and if they don’t, and it’s not tagged to you by full name or linking your account, then third parties such as potential employers will also never know.

  12. MMouse*

    My workplace must be incredibly conservative because our hot topics for discussion are children and home improvement. If nothing else, the weather is also a good topic to fall back on. Oh, and the World Cup.

  13. Red Librarian*

    There is getting drunk or getting high or whatever and then there is getting drunk/high and posting pictures or talking openly about it.

    People drink. People get high. Sometimes they do this with co-workers if they have that sort of outside-of-work relationship. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But putting all of that out there on social media or coming in talking about how hungover they are does seem to show a lack of judgement which would make employers hesitant.

    I don’t think deleting or closing down all social media accounts is necessary, just be more aware of what you’re putting out there.

  14. EngineerGirl*

    Everybody is NOT doing it. “Everybody’s doing it” is the common refrain of someone who is trying to justify their actions. It’s also the last chance argument of someone that doesn’t have any legitimate reasons for doing it, so tries to deflect by pointing to everyone else. Really – if they had a good reason for their action they would have used that in their argument.
    Recreational use of drugs (and alcohol is a drug too) in the tech industry is tricky. You could get into a wild-child organization where it’s fine. But if you need to get a security clearance? Fuggedaboutit. Fortunately, investigators know that kids party in university. They are looking for trends of heavy usage, or using it as a crutch. Coming in hung over would be a “I’m not in control” flag.
    BTW, they can still get to your accounts after you’ve deleted them.

    1. Celeste*

      Yes, exactly. If your work requires a security clearance and you either can’t get one or have lost yours, you’ve got a real problem. The thinking on how to grant clearances is extremely paranoid, in terms of not only who might be impaired to do critical safety work, but in terms of who might have secrets that make them vulnerable to blackmail and therefore a risk to security. It’s a different world than what most office workers are used to, and if you’ve chosen this work then you have to accept the terms.

  15. Cafe Au Lait*

    Here’s part of the problem: you will be weighed more heavily on “partying” behavior if you’re male or female, and if you’re in a gendered profession.

    A few years ago a local teacher for fired for drinking too much at an after-work Friday happy hour. Her coworker had taken pictures of her passed out on the couch at a colleague’s house, and then posted them on Facebook.

    She was fired for being “a bad example to the students.” Never mind the fact that she didn’t come to work drunk, this was an isolated event, her coworker (not her) made the bad judgement of taking and then posting said pictures online.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      Glad you pointed it out. I hate playing the gender card, but it is alive and well in some situations. This being one of them.

      When I was in my 20s, I was at a Christmas party for work where I drank too much. I was far from the only one, but was the only female. There were some….shenanigans….. The next few weeks at work, all of us received some good natured ribbing. But this is how office legends start. Over the months and years, the stories grew in craziness, and stopped being less about a group of people, and started being about me. Because, after all, a young woman acting like an imbecile while drunk made for a much better story than a bunch of guys still acting like they were in a fraternity. At the same time, I was growing older, and progressing in my career where I hated that it was the first thing people thought about when you said my name. I got tired of the comments of, “Grumpy, was it true that you one time did this….” or “Don’t try to outdrink Grumpy. You’ll lose.”. I wised up and never allowed myself more than a single beverage at a company get together, and then only if there was food being served. But the reputation stayed with me until the day I left that company.

      My story was relatively harmless. I was known as the office party girl while the men who were present were not held to the same standard of ridicule.

      1. anon4this*

        I think that if the person had been a lone male in the same situation, the ‘frat boy’ tag would have followed him forever.

        1. jmkenrick*

          I actually think that’s the point they’re trying to make.

          “you will be weighed more heavily on “partying” behavior if you’re male or female, and if you’re in a gendered profession.”

          Both examples have just been women so far.

          1. Tinker*

            I think the point might have gotten lost a little bit, at least on me. Unless the point is that genderqueer folks get additional latitude on partying behavior if they work in gendered professions, and I don’t know as that’s true…

      2. Prickly Pear*

        This. I went from working with people where I was solidly in the middle, age wise. to being one of the senior members on staff. At my old place, it was fun to see how many different drinks we could order (and sample- we were weird) at our get-togethers, etc. I went to one non-work event with some of my new coworkers and we hit a bar after. Because I had two drinks that night, I have the reputation of being able to outdrink sailors. I can shrug it off (and hey, it feels kinda cool to be able to ‘hang’ with the youngsters), but I do get exasperated at how this has been blown out of proportion.

    2. Red Librarian*

      That sounds eerily like a story a teacher friend of mine was just telling me about someone she knows who got fired.

    3. Sarah*

      This is very true. As a woman, many people are going to assume that you are emotionally fragile already. And if you’re seen getting very drunk or come to work noticeably hungover, that may be interpreted as a sign of emotional instability, “losing it,” an impending nervous breakdown, an inability to handle the stress of your career, etc. Suddenly people are concerned about whether you can handle high-profile projects or any additional responsibilities when if you were a male, it would just be seen as mildly unprofessional silliness. Of course if you don’t drink at all, that could be interpreted as you’re pregnant or trying to be, you’re too prissy and can’t fit in with the boy’s club, or you are too emotionally unstable to drink without excess.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Historically, teachers (men and women) could not drink period. Definitely no bars and not even over a friend’s house. Any gossip about a teacher drinking was doom. In those days it wasn’t
      FB, it was gossip. Teachers used to be (and even now to some degree) held to a higher standard that most of the general population could not sustain themselves.

      Yes, the standards were particularly harsh on women. When a teacher married, she had to quit her job because it was unacceptable for students to see a pregnant woman. (Yeah, try not to think about that- it hurts too much.) I had a couple family members that lost their teaching jobs in the 50s because they got married.

  16. GoingAnon*

    Longtime reader going anonymous to ask a question about the other end of the spectrum: I recently got sober. It was hard but I’m super proud of it. A few of my colleagues know I was a drinker and I’m friends with a few co-workers on FB. At some point I’m sure I’ll be sharing my new sobriety on a wider basis – but is this something my work colleagues should know? Whether I tell them directly or talk about it in social media. Is it viewed as “good for her!” or as “wow, you were that much of a hard drinker, aye?” or is it in between/a non-issue?

    1. fposte*

      Congratulations to you!

      Unless your workplace revolves around alcohol a lot, I don’t see why this information would need to be shared at work. Speaking for myself, I don’t really think much about colleagues’ drinking or not drinking, and I’m fine keeping it that way. If drinking is a big enough thing at your workplace that you might need to enlist a little backup in getting out of it, that would be another matter.

    2. annie*

      I’ve been your friends and coworkers a few times in a situation like this! Here’s my take – as a friend, I would say “good for her”. As a coworker, it falls into the category of medical things that I do not need to know about and are probably best left unsaid in most scenarios.

      I think it also depends on your own confidence and handling of the topic – if you are out at a work event and someone offers you a glass of wine, but you can breezily say “Oh, I’ll just have a soda, I don’t drink alcohol anymore” that is fine. If you get defensive about it, or talk a lot about it, I think people may take that as being just as annoying as the coworker who talks constantly about their latest fad diet or religious conversion or obsession with their knitting circle.

      Note – I’m not necessarily saying any of this is how we should treat others who struggle with addictions, just that this is my observation of how it may play out.

    3. Bwmn*

      I think it can vary wildly. Everything from your two examples to also include what I would consider “projected thoughts”, where people may think that your sobriety reflects on them in some way.

      I would think that a comparable example would be seeking therapy. While I’m certain there are many coworkers/managers that would see it as a “good for you!” situation – there’s also enough stigma with therapy/mental illness that it may bring up the “wow, that crazy?” thoughts.

    4. GrumpyBoss*

      First, congrats! That is awesome!

      I can understand why you would want to share at work – you want people to share in your accomplishment! But I’d use caution. I’ve worked for enough jerks who would use it to judge you. Why subject yourself to that? I’d avoid a widespread announcement, but maybe share with a few people who you are close with.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I think it’s a “good for her”. I recently attended a conference with a salesperson who had quit drinking about 3 months before. He was a former partier, which is pretty acceptable in our department (and as a salesperson, almost required), and had even had a few work event passout pics go around the group. Not publicly known, but he had had some major marital problems that once I put two and two together, I figured probably contributed to his decision. I think drinking is fine if you can handle it, but if have the willpower to give it up, particularly in an environment where it’s the social norm, that’s impressive. Everyone here has been supportive of the guy, no joking about his manhood or anything like that.

    6. Stephanie*

      Congrats! I would just keep it discrete. I think if you do talk heavily about it, it can sound a tad like evangelizing or passing judgement on those who do imbibe.

      I was a Thanksgiving Orphan one year (not enough leave at work and airfare was super expensive). I joined my friend’s family. On the way there, my friend and his sister are like “As a heads up, Uncle Wakeen’s a recovering alcoholic, so he won’t drink any wine or will decline an offer.”

      We get to the house:
      “Hi, Wakeen, I’m Stephanie, Apollo’s friend.”
      “Hi Stephanie. This is my 25th anniversary of being sober.”
      I stammered out a congrats and didn’t know what to say after that. The uncle spent the rest of the meal talking about his “meeting.”

    7. C Average*

      I often give up alcohol when I’m training for a race. I’ve never had a problem just saying “no thanks” when offered alcohol. No one has ever pried into why I’m not partaking. (Which is kind of a miracle, given that I’m a woman of childbearing age. Maybe there are lots of hot rumors about me?)

    8. ChiTown Lurker*

      I would not share this at work. Some things should be kept quiet and out of the workplace. At a prior company, one of our senior managers was a member of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). She didn’t talk about it much but I do remember her violent opposition to drinkers holding any positions of authority. It didn’t matter if you didn’t drink and drive. Some people see alcoholism, even in 21st century, as a moral failing and will always judge you for it. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

      As for corporate events, grab a club soda or a coke. You don’t need to give a reason. You don’t need to justify your behavior.

    9. anon*


      The trick is to be matter-of-fact and ambiguously truthful. I usually go with, “Nah, I can’t, but thanks.”

      If anyone’s rude enough to ask why? “Boring medical stuff,” with a light tone and a shrug, followed by changing the subject, shuts ’em up.

    10. Solidarity!*

      I’m in a similar situation. I’ve never been a heavy drinker, but I recently quit drinking because I believe it’s healthier. It’s awkward to bring up, though. Where I live, there’s a lot of pressure to drink and if you don’t, it comes across as unfriendly.

      I don’t think I’m going to make an announcement about it, especially since I may still drink on rare occasions (family reunions). When someone brings it up, I’ll probably just say, “I’m driving” or “I’m on a diet”, whatever works for that situation.

      1. Windchime*

        General comment:

        I think it’s a shame that people feel that they have to justify their non-drinking status, whether it be for a night or for a lifetime. It seems like a simple, “No, thanks!” should be enough of a response. I’ve seen it recommended many times that people “fake” drinking (like with plain club soda with lime, so that it looks like an alcoholic drink). That’s too bad; people need to mind their own business when another chooses to take a pass on alcohol.

    11. AVP*

      My boss is sober and it’s very helpful to know that because in our industry people are constantly going out for drinks, client dinners with wine, going to industry parties at bars, etc. Knowing that he’d much prefer a coffee/lunch meeting with people, and that he hates parties at bars, makes it easier for me to plan a schedule for him. But other than that I can’t think of a time its been relevant.

    12. Sarah*

      I wouldn’t reveal it. Any kind of mental health concern whatsoever can result in a lot of increased scrutiny. People may think “GoingAnon is going through a hard time right now trying to get sober. We better not give him/her any additional responsibilities.” Or if your coworkers ever saw or thought they saw you drinking again (say you’re having a soda in a bar), it will be “GoingAnon is relapsing, we better take away all high-stakes work before he/she spins out of control!” I would have some less risky explanation ready for anyone who asks, like a health kick, a diet, your doctor suggested it to manage your reflux, etc. (You shouldn’t HAVE to give any explanation but if you’re mysterious about a drastic change and you’re a woman, everyone will think you’re pregnant.)

    13. KrisL*

      Congrats for going sober! I probably wouldn’t talk about it to co-workers. If you’re in a situation where people are drinking, it’s OK to say “I don’t feel like it right now.”

    14. fiat lux*

      Congrats on your sobriety!

      I wouldn’t stand up and make an announcement during the staff meeting or anything, but personally I think it’s completely appropriate to tell people on an individual basis as it comes up. For instance, if a coworker invites you to happy hour after work and you don’t go to bars anymore, you could say “no thank you, I’m in recovery/ I don’t drink, but I’d like to get dinner or coffee another time.” I’d bet you that you have at least one other coworker who’s in recovery or has a family member or friend in recovery – it’s more common than most people think.

  17. MaryMary*

    “Yes, many employers would frown on you admitting being hungover at work.”

    In college or your early 20s, being super hungover but still showing up as promised the next morning is a badge of honor. In the professional world, rolling in the next morning looking like death warmed over is not going to meet with the same kind of approval. Particularly in an office setting, I remember going into the retail job I had in high school one Sunday morning and being the only one not hungover. But most jobs aren’t going to be pleased if you’re not able to operate 100%. You’re being paid to contribute. Many of us have overindulged from time to time, it’s one thing to whisper to your best work friend about how awful you feel, it’s another thing to announce, “Dude, I’m so hungover” to the office. It’s generally better to show up than to call off, but don’t expect anyone to be impressed.

    1. Helka*

      This, absolutely this.

      Unless you work somewhere kind of messed up, it’s more important to be putting out quality work than it is to just have your butt in the chair regardless of what the rest of you is doing.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I had a guy show up to work hungover yesterday. He is in his 50s and is way past his college party days. I’m currently discussing with HR about what I should say/do (there’s more to the story than I’ll go into here). Not only is it less than professional, I had to move a couple of assignments off of his plate yesterday because he wasn’t in a condition where I wanted him representing my team in a handful of meetings. So now, he isn’t meeting the basic expectations of his job.

      The thing of it is, if he just had called in sick, I would have taken that at face value. People get sick. But coming into work in that condition was just a very poor decision.

      1. Bwmn*

        This is such a critical thing about issues beyond having a hangover. Whether it’s being sick, having allergies, being sleep deprived, hungover, etc. – having judgment whether or not you can be high enough functioning to be at the office the next day is critical. Being sleep deprived due to having a new baby vs. going to a midnight showing of a new comic book movie may definitely be viewed differently in the office – but if you’re going to show up to the office, make sure you won’t pose a problem.

        If you take a day or two of sick time during the year for a hangover or seeing a midnight showing of a 3 hour movie, it’s hardly going to be career ending (provided the day you’re out isn’t a super critical day to be at work).

        1. C Average*

          So, so true.

          I was once on a high-stakes international business trip. I was there for two weeks and had a lot of deliverables within that timeframe. There was a lot of pressure to make every day productive.

          I wound up having a flare-up of an old running injury that prevented me from sleeping. That, combined with the time difference, rendered me pretty useless. I tried to press through and then finally, on the fourth day, I opted to take a sick day to take some painkillers and catch up on sleep.

          I know our director wasn’t happy with my decision and judged me for it, but I came back on day five rested, sharp, and productive. I’d do the same thing again, given the chance, even though I blew my reputation for stamina and indestructibility.

          1. Ezri*

            I don’t see why we should have to have reputations for stamina and indestructibility in the first place. I mean, it’s reasonable to expect employees to be at work and productive, but is taking one day off every now and then to handle illness / injuries / plain old exhaustion really cause to judge someone’s work ethic? The ‘just fight through it’ mentality really bothers me, especially since most illness will go away more quickly if you get some rest at the beginning instead of working for a week while sick.

      2. MaryMary*

        That’s a good point, and a couple other people have made similar points below. I think of being hungover as having a headache and being fatigued, it’s quite another matter if someone is still impaired, reeks of alcohol, is vomiting, etc. It’s also a great argument for moderation, calling in sick regularly on Fridays or Mondays is going to catch up with you too.

  18. ACA*

    At my previous job, going drinking together (usually on Wednesday or Thursday) was part of the culture…because we hated our jobs, hated our management, and letting loose once a week was how we kept sane. We could talk about our hangovers because we’d all been there the night before. There was a fair amount of casual drug use among my coworkers (and less casual drug use, for some of them). It was not a healthy office culture, and it got worse once we found out our entire department was getting let go.

    And yet, despite all that, not one of us would ever have dreamed of putting anything on the internet. Probably because we were all desperately searching for better jobs.

  19. Lamington*

    My workplace and former ones do random drug tests as well. if you don’t pass you will get fired. as for drinking, one guy was let go inmediately because he reeked of alcohol even though he didn’t appear drunk or hangover.

  20. E.R*

    The CEO at one of my first jobs post-graduation made it clear that being visibly drunk or hungover at our annual conference is a “career-limiting move”. Never mind that he was always visibly intoxicated at these events – I suppose he had the authority to do as he pleased.

    When you are young and just starting out, you have to prove yourself as smart, capable, dependable, dedicated. Getting drunk at a corporate event or being too hungover to do your job properly will reflect poorly on you to at least someone. It’s much like your sex life – most people are doing it sometimes, but your coworkers and management should not find evidence of it in your professional life.

    Until you’ve worked long enough to have a good reputation and track record (at which time, people will forgive you if you happen to overindulge), keep track of how much you drink, how you feel, and what everyone around you is doing. I don’t think you’ll ever regret not getting hammered at a work event or being hungover for work.

    1. Christine*

      “It’s much like your sex life – most people are doing it sometimes, but your coworkers and management should not find evidence of it in your professional life.”
      Love this! Great way to make the point!

  21. Ed*

    I would go so far as to say you would be negatively judged at my workplace (Fortune 500 company), at least within my department, if you did NOT drink at work-related functions. The maturity level is somewhat low and sort of a “bro” culture in general. I doubt those managers would care much if you had pics of yourself drunk on Facebook. However, they are not necessarily the same people that would be vetting you. While they might even think it was cool, the HR person researching you and checking references would probably bounce you before you even got an interview.

    The problem with situations like this is you will most likely never know if you didn’t get an interview because of a Facebook pic or a non-PC opinion you posted on Twitter. I can speak from experience in saying that at companies where I’ve worked, we have absolutely not interviewed/hired/promoted people for reasons like this. Other reasons include smelling like pot when you dropped off your resume, being rude to the receptionist, being rude to someone in the parking lot on the way in, etc.

    1. C Average*


      Your workplace sounds similar to mine.

      There’s definitely a different standard (and different people paying attention) when you’re applying than from when you’re employed already.

    2. HM in Atlanta*

      I get a lot of questions about why I’m not drinking (usually, it’s just because I’d rather have a diet coke). I’ve noticed a lot people focus on it, like by not drinking I either have a “story” or I’m subtly judging them.

      I’m not judging anyone, I just want a diet coke.

      1. Ezri*

        +1000 to this. Neither my husband nor I drinks much, and people like to link that up with our religion and decide we’re judging them for their wicked ways. It’s not true at all, and we try to be very clear on that. He just prefers Coke and I don’t like anything that makes my head feel fuzzy (plus I already have a caffeine addiction to nurture). But everyone else can do as they please.

    3. ChiTown Lurker*

      In companies where alcoholism is rampant, you will definitely be noticed. However, I would rather be noticed for not drinking than for having my picture in the morning paper. One of my easily swayed coworkers caved to peer pressure. Driving home from the event, during a storm, he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. Technically, he wasn’t drunk but our customer was offended. Therefore, the people at the party had no problem dismissing him for unprofessional behavior. He broke his leg, totaled his car, loss his job and damaged his marriage.

      Being an adult when it’s not popular: priceless.

  22. James M*

    For the love of gin, don’t go to work hung over… it’s better to call in hung over and take the day off.

    1. Jamie*

      This – and be aware of how you smell. Some people reek the next day after a night of heavy drinking and some don’t. I don’t know if it’s all sweaty people, or it’s a chemistry thing, but I know people who are no alcoholics who showered properly and still have it coming off them in waves the next day.

      I’m not judging – I don’t care what people do on their personal time as long as they are good to go for work – but that smell is horrible and will absolutely make people think the drinking is more recent or that you’re possibly still impaired.

      I know it’s not common – but it’s gross so I wanted to mention it – I’ve seen people have to prove up after this at work to avoid getting fired.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Additionally, putting on a gallon of cologne does not fool anyone and only draws more attention to the fact that a person is not up to par today.

  23. sam*

    I worked at a law firm for many years, and there are not just double standards when it comes to drinking – there are umpteen standards. It matters if you’re male or female. It matters if you’re a junior associate or a senior partner. It matters if you’re at an official firm function or out with a few colleagues (and whether those few colleagues are at the same “level” as you or are your superiors). It matters who’s paying. It matters if clients are present.

    I drank plenty, but unless I was only among close (as in actual friends) colleagues, I generally limited myself to two drinks, interspersed with seltzer. Others didn’t. Others also got seriously gossiped about the next day.

    That being said, I see nothing wrong with having a Facebook account. I keep my settings strictly private/friends only, and I NEVER friend current colleagues, even if I consider them friends. If they ask, I simply explain that I don’t want to put them in the position of having to edit their own page to hide things from me, or feel like they would have to lie to our boss if I ever called in sick when, say, playing hookey (not that I’ve ever actually done that). When I leave a job, I friend up a storm.

    I also have a general rule for all social media/blogging. Never post anything that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times. It is guaranteed that the one thing you wouldn’t want that *one person* to see will make its way to them. Which is why my blog and twitter feed these days is 90% complaining about the cable company and pictures of my cat.

    1. Prickly Pear*

      I have pretty much all of my former coworkers as FB friends. My rule used to be coworkers at my same level, cool, but no bosses until they were ex-bosses. (I friended my ex-boss out in my car on literally my last day of work.) At this job, I held off, because I wanted to get to know them first. I’ve made lots and lots of mistakes here, but that was certainly my best decision, because pretty much everyone else is on FB and on each other’s friends list, which they use to spy on people and read each others’ statuses aloud and I thank goodness that big ol’ bullet was dodged.

      1. KrisL*

        I’m friends on FB with a lot of people from work, including supervisors, but I try to be very careful about what I post on FB.

  24. C Average*

    I can offer a counterpoint to this. I work for a company where it’s accepted and encouraged that employees will party hard, including at company functions. We often have beer and wine at work in the afternoon (say, to celebrate a successful quarter, an obscure holiday, or just the fact that yay, it’s Friday!). Many of my colleagues go out together, drink a lot, and share their partying fairly freely on social media. I get the impression management feels it’s all in good fun, and it’s evidence that these people are outgoing and fun.

    Being hung over at work would not generally be OK. I know a handful of otherwise excellent employees who have taken a sick day and quietly confessed to their managers that they’d had too much to drink the night before. It’s regarded as a forgivable offense if it’s a one-off and you’re a high performer, but it won’t win you any friends or allies.

    Even in such a party-positive atmosphere, though, I don’t see a down side to being a little more buttoned up. I have a policy of never having more than one drink at a work function, ever. I smile winningly, make self-deprecating noises about being a lightweight, nurse my one drink for as long as possible, and then switch to water. No one that I’m aware of has ever judged me for this.

    tl;dr = Even if you’re in a hard-partying office, it will never be a bad idea to behave yourself. There’s just no down side to moderation and good judgment.

  25. aebhel*

    I find the advice not to go into work hungover a little odd–maybe its just that I’ve never gotten particularly bad hangovers, but after a cold shower and a cup of coffee, I’m pretty much perfectly functional.

    Not that I do this, anyway, but I certainly wouldn’t call in sick for a hangover.

    1. Andy*

      I’ve seen co-workers that were obviously impaired, hangover style. If your handovers aren’t bad then by all means go ahead to work…but if you’re the type of person who wears their night out for two days afterwards… take the day off.

    2. Stephanie*

      Seconding Andy. I’d also add that the nature of your job would be a big factor as well: my last couple of jobs required heavy attention to detail (as in, noting the difference between “said teapot” and “a teapot”) and staring at a computer screen all day. I’d imagine doing that hungover or interacting with people all day hungover would be hellish.

    3. Kai*

      Yeah, the one or two times I’ve been at work “hungover,” it only amounts to “really tired.” But I have seen people who simply can’t function.

    4. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I think it depends on how bad the hangover is. If it’s a really bad one, it’s best to take a sick day. As long as no one saw you out drinking the night before.

    5. Sarah*

      I assumed the LW was referring to severe hangovers. Sometimes I drink enough to feel it a little, but I can more or less keep this hidden from employers and be fine. In my younger, more party-heavy days, I had some hangovers that definitely impaired my functioning and were probably noticeable. The kind where you feel like you’re dying, you’re nauseous, and your head throbs every time someone speaks to you.

    6. LBK*

      Yeah, I’d say you’re blessed to just not have bad hangovers. Depends on how much I drink but I’m rarely fully functional the next day until at least 11AM or so.

      1. Jamie*

        I haven’t had one since college, but it was the same with me. I rarely got hangovers but when I did there was no hiding it and there would have been no way to fake functional.

  26. Ann Furthermore*

    I was in my mid-20’s when I learned a valuable lesson: no amount of fun is worth having to go to work hungover the next day. This happened twice, and never again. I also quit smoking pot in my 20’s because I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of not being able to pass a drug test, if it ever came up (although it never did).

    I never over-indulge at work gatherings, even though I know many people who do. It’s just fraught with too many possibilities to do something regrettable. I always alternate cocktails with a diet soda, and if anyone asks, I just say I’m limiting my intake so I’ll be able to drive home.

    I don’t think you need to completely delete your Facebook account, but it would be smart to go through the history and see if there’s anything questionable that should be removed. And if friends post unflattering pictures of you, remove the tag and ask the friend to remove the picture, or at least crop it so you don’t show up.

    I think all that’s required for anyone is to just exercise a little common sense. My rule of thumb for putting things on the internet is that if it’s something I’d be embarrassed for my grandmother to see, I skip it.

  27. Student*

    I’m in defense work, and we’re the opposite end of the spectrum from your lawyer friend’s job culture.

    There’s significant overlap between the tech industry and the defense industry. If you have any defense-industry job aspirations, then follow your instincts and ignore your friend.

    We can be fired immediately for any use of pot within the past 10 years. This is NOT expected to change as fast as state laws change.

    We can be fired for excessive drinking, and we are expected not to drink in certain business situations where it is otherwise permissible or expected. We can drink in private life, but we’re expected not to drink to excess, ever. We are generally expected not to engage in what you refer to as “party culture”. We still have parties, enjoy ourselves, and socialize with a wide variety of people, but any “partying” that involves loss of personal control is not acceptable.

    For me, this is not a sacrifice. I live my life like this anyway. I don’t understand why anyone would want to “party” until they experience blackouts, memory loss, and/or extreme loss of inhibitions. I like my inhibitions, because they keep me from doing things that are bad for me. I think most people, as they get older, start to feel this kind of behavior is not fun, but rather stupid. Parties that you can’t remember are not nearly as valuable as parties you can remember for years. You’re just ahead of the learning curve on this issue.

    1. ChiTown Lurker*

      +1000 This was exactly the situation at OldCompany. In my 10+ years there, I rarely saw anyone break the rules but it did happen from time to time. The dismissal was immediate and without regard to seniority, performance or position.

    2. Pleasefilloutthisfield*

      This isn’t quite strictly true for culture in the defense field – I have many family/friends in that area, and there is quite a bit of fun happening. It must depend on the specific circles of folks.

    3. MR*

      I used to work in the defense industry and this was absolutely not my experience, and I worked on some very high profile stuff.

  28. Sara*

    This is interesting.

    I’ve heard of teachers getting fired for posting a photo of them holding a glass of wine on vacation (certainly not drunk or passed out or anything of the sort)

    I’m honestly more worried about other things. I try to avoid posting any political stuff and I don’t drink or party anyways, but I do post about how a random stranger may have creeped me out or pissed me off…..or funny pictures. who knows what bothers employers.

    Another thing that kind of confuses me is how employers can look up your social media presence… FB profile is private, I keep all my photos private, my Instagram is private and I don’t have a twitter or any other social media account.

    1. Brett*

      There are many ways around privacy settings. For example, if you have a direct link to a Facebook photo, even if set private and later deleted, you can pull up the photo. The direct link never goes away. Combined with graph search, archiving, and other ways of finding old Facebook info, a determined searcher can find a lot despite your privacy settings.

  29. Tinker*

    If you’re indiscreet enough to post photos of you drunk, you’re possibly indiscreet enough to post photos of them drunk. Thusly arises a problem.

  30. A Teacher*

    I think you’ve got two extremes here: deleting an entire account that proves you lived a life and going way above and beyond to show why you might be a risk to hire because of poor judgement. In ways I think the OP and her friend are both wrong just with different extremes.

    I mainly use social media–instagram, twitter, and FB for the animal rescue I volunteer with, in fact I moderate our twitter and Pinterest stuff. That said, I haven’t gone back and deleted out pictures where I’m holding a glass of wine and my students, their parents, and my employer doesn’t care. I also don’t post pictures that would cause someone to question my judgement. Finding a balance of what to post and not post is the answer here and I don’t think either the OP or her friend have found that yet.

  31. bullyfree*

    I deleted my Facebook and Linked-In completely due to stalker reasons but changed my name and now have a Twitter and Pinterest. Alison – should we assume possible future employers will research us when considering offering us a job ?

    Things I post are about are my healing process from PTSD and other assorted things. I do not have a following and figure no one really pays attention to anything I post. But should I look at what I post and who I follow from a employers perspective ?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s pretty common for employers to Google job candidates, at least once they’re closer to the finalist stage. That doesn’t mean you have to do anything differently, but it’s something to be aware of.

  32. Brett*

    For the most part, anything public sector is on the opposite end from law offices. Employers will mostly only care if there is a clear problem with substance abuse. The problem (like I posted about in a comment above), is that a lot of the general public considers you to be their employee too. They see spending your salary as spending their income, so anything you do in your private time with your money can end up just as scrutinized as if it was on the clock with company money. I have seen far too many people be punished, even so far as losing their jobs, because the wrong citizen made a crusade about them going to a bar on the weekend. Worse I ever had happen was ending up in the wrong end of an ATF investigation for bootlegging because I helped organize a trivia night. But I had a coworker end up on the nightly news because someone with an axe to grind followed him around and recorded footage of him drinking (off the clock), and sent that footage to dozens of media outlets. He ended up issuing a promotion as a result.
    And that is just alcohol. Any history of pot use is guaranteed to land you on some relentless person’s public servant hit list. I’ve seen that end or severely hamper someone’s public sector career several times. And always with the tag line that “your tax dollars” are being spent on drugs!

      1. LJL*

        I see it too at the state government level (US). I doubt it is exclusive to Brett’s place of employment.

  33. Toothless*

    Here’s a sad tale. A friend of a friend was a church organist. He went onto Facebook and posted a photo of himself and some other guys at a party. No one was doing anything either illegal or disreputable, but context clues made it clear that some of the guys were couples. (I haven’t seen the photo, but based on my friend’s description, it sounds like we’re talking hand-holding as opposed to tongue-kissing.)

    The organist’s pastor saw the picture and fired him.

    I mean, one moral of the story is that the paster was a bigot, but the other moral of the story is that if you find yourself working for a bigot, in addition to adjusting your present behavior, you might wish you had controlled the Facebook presentation of your past behavior, too.

    1. Anon.*

      Sadly, that’s the bigger issue…making sure to keep your private life locked down and separate from your professional life because someone who has the power to fire you or make your life miserable might just do that some day. Maybe now you’re in a laid back environment where people are ok with partying, love sharing it via social media, and so on; but, one day you may have a teetotaling manager who has her own issues with drinking and partying, and make judgements on you. (I did.)

      Of course, no one should get sloppy drunk at a work function and be out of control, and not have partying get in the way of their work day (except maybe on the rare occasion).

  34. Sarah*

    My experience is that teetotaling has far more of a stigma than partying! People will think it’s weird, think that you have some religion which necessitates walking on eggshells around you, think you are pregnant (if you suddenly cut back), think you are “lame” or unsociable, etc. The peer pressure and judgment in some offices is more intense than amongst teenagers.

    However, you ARE expected to be able to have the judgment to keep your personal adventures from affecting your job. If you can’t keep potentially unsavory material about yourself away from a potential employer, they may worry that you also won’t have the judgment to keep it away from your clients, higher ups, and other people who your bosses want to make a good impression on.

    And I’d argue that calling in sick while hungover or showing up hungover is ALWAYS disadvantageous, regardless of your workplace. While in some offices it’s less of a problem than others, no one wants to pick up your slack because of your drinking habits. Same with getting sloppily or obnoxiously drunk at work events – people may want you to join the drunken camaraderie but they don’t want to carry you home, be embarrassed when you’re belligerent with bartenders or cab drivers, or deal with awkward situations you create. A “laid back” office culture may result in people acting cool about it to your face, but no one wants to deal with this stuff even from friends, let alone coworkers.

    1. MR*

      Teetotaling generally only gets push back if you are waving it everyone’s face. If you decline a drink and leave it at that, the only people who will give you a problem are the idiots, and they have bigger problems than that anyways.

    2. KrisL*

      I almost never drink (or a few sips) because I dislike the taste, and it really hasn’t been much of an issue for me.

  35. Befuddled Squirrel*

    Facebook is a landmine. You have control over what you post, but other people can still tag you and post things to your wall. Sure, you can turn that setting off, but then your more well-meaning friends take it the wrong way. You can also be judged by who you’re friends with and what they post. I’ve pretty much stopped using it.

  36. Malissa*

    This is a fascinating post and discussion. Especially after coming in to work this morning and finding a bottle of Italian wine on my desk.–A souvenir from the boss’s trip to Europe.
    Then again I am working in a place where the boss will take you out and get you drunk if you give him the chance.
    So drunken behavior might actually land you a job here.

  37. Befuddled Squirrel*

    Also, FWIW, I don’t know what kind of technology-related field the LW is going into, but the Bay Area tech industry is pretty much party central. And everyone uses social media. Having pictures on Instagram where you’re drunk and dressed in a costume is normal. Not having social media accounts would be considered more weird. Of course it varies by company, though.

  38. J*

    Just wanted to add that aside from individual business culture, different countries have different cultures surrounding drinking and it’s important to be cognizant of that, especially when working in an international organization or in a field that works with international clients. In China, for example, drinking is part of doing business and in Japan drinking is important for bonding with coworkers (I was actually grilled about my attitudes towards drinking in a job interview once!).

    In general, though, I agree with Alison’s advice and many other’s comments – it’s more about seemingly bragging about poor or immature behavior and behaving appropriately at work events.

  39. Xay*

    I work in public health, so drugs are definitely frowned upon if for nothing else, clearance and background check purposes. When I worked in state government, we were not drug tested but as a federal contractor I signed an agreement saying I can be randomly drug tested. My employer does not drug test unless there are performance issues but most other contractors in this area conduct routine tests.

    Drinking generally is not seen as a problem (smoking is a much bigger no no) but pictures on social media would be seen as indiscreet at best and a liability at worst depending on your role and the situation. For example. I worked in a hepatitis program – drinking at a hepatitis related function would be considered odd but not unreasonable. Posting pictures of drinking at a hepatitis meeting would be huge problem for perception of the program and workers and would probably result in disciplinary action.

    That said, based on my conference experiences, people drink like fish but are expected to perform without complaining and without hangovers. Whatever you do outside of work should not affect your performance.

  40. Ornery PR*

    I work in an office that likes to have a drink or 3 at lunch, and the perception of those who drink is…interesting. I think that if anyone were slacking, they would be looked down on for partying too much, even by the heavy drinkers. But the fact that everyone works really hard and is always willing to follow a project through makes the drinking and fun-having acceptable. The quality of your work determines how much people overlook your wild side.

  41. Not So NewReader*

    OP, you can’t totally prove or disprove either side of the discussion. It seems that most are in favor of taking the more conservative road. I agree.

    We see people writing in here that have been without jobs for months or even years. There are many reasons why an applicant does not get hired that the applicant cannot control. Why, oh why, would anyone make it harder for themselves to find that better job? Control the parts you can control.

  42. Not So NewReader*

    One more tidbit: I cannot find the comment but someone mentioned drinking as a morality issue. For some people that is true. I think it’s less of a morality issue than it has ever been in the past.
    However, the thing that OP’s friend should be aware of is people who grew up in an alcoholic home. This takes the discussion out of the morality area and brings it into perhaps a personal bias? It’s easy to think that someone is having an issue with others who drink because of typical arguments. But if a person grew up having to clean up after an alcoholic parent for years, this is no longer an issue about morals. It’s a more about personal experience.
    Right. No HM should put their own bias into their hiring decisions. But, it’s human nature that sometimes our bias creeps into our decision making.

    1. ChiTown Lurker*

      I think I made the comment about alcoholism being viewed as a moral weakness by some members of the population. Alcoholism is associated with drunkenness which is frowned on in a lot of places, no personal experience necessary.

      Once upon a time, until every celebrity outed themselves on tv, AA was something of a secret organization in terms of membership. It wasn’t because people were shy but because it was actually seen as a weakness to have an addiction.

      In a world where people go on tv to publicly have their child’s DNA tested to determine paternity, this probably seems foolish. However, there are still a large number of people who see alcoholism as a moral problem. Not drinking but drunkenness and alcoholism which aren’t necessarily the same thing.

    2. Anon for this*

      Agreed. I’d say the same thing about weed, too, to an even greater extent. There are a lot of people who use it responsibly, but there are also a lot of people who don’t. Most of my personal experience with marijuana has been with people who abuse it, including one person who I love and who burned me pretty hard over it (figuratively, not literally). While I know that there are plenty of people who use it responsibly, that experience means that on some level, I do look at weed as a red flag – you need to prove to me that it’s not a problem.

  43. Liz*

    I never drink at office functions. Had this drilled home when had Christmas party at business owners house. Another girl got so drunk, she started insulting the owners wife and saying nasty stuff. She was so drunk, she did not know what was going on. She would not be quiet, nor could anyone distract her to shut her up. Everyone there heard what she said. No immediate repercussions that I knew of, but 3 months later, there was a massive layoff and she was one of the first out the door.

  44. Programmer 01*

    My industry is very laid-back about this sort of thing, and while I doubt a hiring manager in our office would care about things like drinking etc (pot isn’t illegal here), interestingly enough there are things they look on social media for and would flag candidates for: hate speech, especially racist, sexist and anti-LGBT posts/sentiments/etc. Our office is extremely diverse, we hire in from all over the world, and all of our work is done in teams with communication and compatibility being our major things to hire for, once qualifications are met. Sometimes if someone is even a little under-qualified!

    It’s also important because our industry is under fire for exactly these problems, and as a leader in our field our office is very sensitive to this sort of thing. Honestly, having reviewed some candidates myself, you’d be amazed at the stuff people post with their Facebook/real name attached.

  45. Sal*

    Breiter said, “I’ve developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot unless they have a terminal illness and need it for pain.”- regarding Journal of Neuroscience findings from April 2014

    A little different than a beer. Of course, people who aren’t potheads, know potheads act different.

  46. FourMartinis*

    If they do a lot of business with Asian companies, being able to hold their liquor may actually be considered a business asset. The three-martini business meeting never really went out of style over there.

  47. K*

    Maybe I’m just paranoid, but if you put anything on the internet that’s linked to your real name, I think it should be squeaky clean. Limit it to topics that you’d have in polite company. There are exceptions but it depends on the industry you’re in, like artists and models having nudity on their websites, etc. Don’t give companies a reason to reject you.

  48. fiat lux*

    A few things come to mind for me on this topic.

    My personal advice is to take a middle-of-the-road stance with social media. Personally, I am pretty active on Facebook – I use it to keep in touch with old friends from college and friends I’ve made abroad. I would never get rid of my account, not for any sort of job. My privacy settings are locked down, and everything that a stranger could see is innocuous. I’ve googled my own name many times, and nothing inappropriate comes up. If an employer has some mad hacking skills and can see something the public can’t, frankly I find that invasive and I’m not interested in working for them.

    But, I do suggest being very cautious about connecting with coworkers on social media. I once accepted a friend request from a colleague who later got in some major hot water and was doing anything she could to deflect attention from herself. In a meeting with my boss’ boss, this coworker basically accused me of being an alcoholic because of a photo I had up of myself having a margarita with my husband. Thankfully, my boss’ boss was very reasonable and told the coworker that she was being completely inappropriate and that my facebook had nothing to do with the matter at hand. So yeah, be cautious about who you’re “friends” with.

  49. Lamb*

    I feel like part of OP’s friend’s issue (not necessarily OP’s issue or the issue of drinking/marijuana use in one’s off-time/on social media in general) is she may feel that OP is judging her choices. OP, for the sake of your friendship, look at how you are framing the debate with her and consider whether she might be feeling defensive. I’m not saying you have to change your position or even how you are phrasing your arguments to her, I’m suggesting you reflect so you can be aware of this possibility and make the decision knowing “When I equate drinking in photos with being drunk and irresponsible, Friend may hear it as me calling her drunk and irresponsible” and then you can decide if that is what you want to say.
    When you say “what better way to not have evidence than to never drink too much! At least in my mind.” I can see how you might become the told-you-so friend on this front. I’ve been that friend who tells someone they are making bad decisions and then finds themself pushed away by that mistake-making friend, and afterwards you ask yourself if being loudly right was worth loosing that friendship.

  50. note*

    In my opinion, I think it’s okay for people to post pictures of partying and socializing for as long as you carry a full responsibility when you’re at work. Your acts should not hinder you from working efficiently and effectively. But the perception still depends on the employers’ culture. Other companies are quite stringent with these issues especially if your work calls for ethical standards. Just be decent enough to strain the publicity of the photos and give a demarcation line between close friends and professional cliques. I hope no one gets fired because he or she posted party photos on Facebook or Twitter. That’s just too unjust?

  51. Mytwocents*

    I can tell you in my experience how this has played out. I work for a very large healthcare corporation. I am not against socializing outside of work, but every get together seems to involve everyone ending up drunk. I had definite leadership aspirations, and never went because of this. The last people I want to be with if I am not totally in control of what I am saying and doing, are people that have the ability to promote me (yes, even the supervisors and physicians would be there). Also, the office gossip the next day would be brutal. It was all about what so and so said and did when she was drunk. No thanks. I have since been promoted and moved up. I am not saying that it is because of this, but if you do not show good judgement when it come to your own behavior, do I want to trust your judgement with business decisions? I am a firm believer in keeping my work and social life separate. I worked for a company where everyone went out after work frequently, and the supervisors also went. Everyone was always drunk at these gatherings, and when one of the girls called in sick on a Monday, her supervisor said “she is probably hung over” and she was not kept after her 90 days. I guess it is all about how sticky you are about professionalism and your definition of that. Personally, I would never do it.

  52. Mytwocents*

    One of the major reasons I never went to these things, is that there is always someone there that wants to take pictures of what is happening and post it on their facebook. We see patients every day, and some of the patients saw these pictures of the nurses that were administering their drugs the next day. Lovely.

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