It's a bad idea to get too personal with your co-workers for so many reasons.
Not convinced? This list of reasons why should quickly dispel any notions to the contrary:
1. Co-workers might air your dirty laundry.
Look no further than "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" to see the pitfalls of letting your colleagues into your personal affairs. After the main character Andy (Steve Carell) reveals his lack of experience in a certain ... ahem, department, his co-workers immediately invade his personal space about very private matters.
Throughout the movie, they inundate Andy with unsolicited advice about love and continuously embarrass him. His co-worker David (Paul Rudd) takes the cake when he stands outside of Andy's apartment and screams, "Andy, for the last time, I don't want your giant box of pornography!" Although this probably won't happen to you (thank goodness), mixing business contacts and social media networks can be a recipe for disaster.
Need a real-world example? Five employees at Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc. were fired the day after they made comments about a colleague on Facebook. They've been subsequently reinstated to their old jobs after a court determined their comments to be protected speech, but all of the involved parties endured significant turmoil as a result.
2. Colleagues may not be so fun outside work.
Initially, it can be tempting to get to know your colleagues better and mingle with them in social settings. But remember that just because you work with these people doesn't mean you'll mesh with them outside the office.
You might discover your neighbor a few cubes away is an out-of-control party animal on the weekends with unhealthy habits, and she wants you to join in on the fun -- even if you don't.
Or maybe Anna from three cubes down decides you're not cool enough to hang out with her. If either person feels this way, it will make future work situations awkward.
3. You (or your colleague) could become codependent.
Regardless of what you do off the clock with your work friends, things have gone too far when codependency issues arise.
Imagine hanging out with your work BFF all weekend, and then when you get into the office on Monday, he starts calling you to ask for your help with reports you know nothing about, just so you two can be together.
Better yet, what if your co-worker becomes so needy that he starts asking you to call in sick with him? There's no better way to peg the sketchy factor, especially if you get caught. (Even if you don't, it's still a creepy scenario.)
4. Everything becomes work-related.
It might turn out that you and your work bestie don't have much in common except for work. Guess what you'll be talking about almost all the time when you're chillaxing together?
Things could easily get to the point where you're in "da club" with your best work friend talking about how you want go on a tropical vacation, and somehow the conversation transitions into last week's meeting or how it's so stupid that you have to print everything two-sided now. Good times.
Seriously, who wants to talk about work when they're not at work or getting paid to work?
So do yourself a favor by keeping work at work -- and find yourself another way to make friends.
(Seth J. Carr is a contributor to Brazen Careerist. He is a freelance writer with more than a decade of professional corporate and nonprofit writing experience. Connect with him on Twitter @sethjcarr. Brazen Careerist is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. This isn't your parents' career-advice column. Be Brazen.)