2007_07_bloombergbullpen.jpgThe Wall Street Journal has an absolutely hysterical/mortifying column today about what happens when one's boss wants to be your "friend" on an online site like MySpace or Facebook. Normally reserved for friends or total strangers, members feel free to share compromising photos or statements on the site.

So what does one do when a "Michael Scott"-like boss wants to get tight with his employees and invites you to be in his Friendster circle? Refusing an invitation is a slight and can be professionally damaging. Accepting an invitation could render the whole concept of a personal site and privacy useless. The damage to a professional relationship can go both ways however:

Mr. Dyer, it turns out, wasn't the one who had to be embarrassed. His boss had photos of himself attempting to imbibe two drinks at once, ostensibly, Mr. Dyer ventures, to send the message: "I'm a crazy, young party guy." The boss also wore a denim suit ("I'd never seen anything like it," Mr. Dyer says) and posed in a photo flashing a hip-hop backhand peace sign.

It was painful to watch. "I hurt for him," says Mr. Dyer.

The Journal has a number of great quotes about professional clients or colleagues stumbling onto too much information. One market research consultant was "friended" by a client and was treated to semi-erotic photos. "When you see your client's pubic bone, something has changed." A 54-year-old development director was less than happy about visiting a younger co-worker's site and viewing a tattoo in a semi-private place: "Sometimes it's good to learn things about a colleague much later -- or never at all." Sometimes even merely embarrassing photos must be purged, once a boss barges into one's personal site.

J.D. Lloyd, a law student working at a firm, isn't taking any chances. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, he removed a photo of himself in a Florida Marlins baseball jersey that was a mere "youth large." "It was tight," he says. "There may or may not have been midriff in some of those pictures."

Oof! This makes us wonder what it must be like working in open office environments, like Mayor Bloomberg's bullpen, where we bet many people are uploading their photographs to their various social networking accounts. Still, when your boss wears this, it probably isn't so bad.

Photograph of Mayor Bloomberg at his temporary Brooklyn office by Andy Kropa/AP