One of the benefits of social media, and of blogging communities before the advent of what is now being called “social media”, is that you build an audience, get to know groups, and make friends that get to know you well. They’ll read about your insomnia, about the book you’ve just finished, about the cute kitten that made you laugh… if you write about it.
private / public – personal / professional
Every single one of us, after he gets an online presence, struggles with the line between private and public, or personal and professional. Sometimes these aren’t overlapping in the expected way either. Personally, I am quite happy existing publicly, because I do not feel like I have anything to hide. I will stand beside every single one of my tweets or blog posts. Some are rants, there’s cursing, there’s jokes, there’s all sorts of things. The only line I draw in the sand before hitting the “send” button is whether this is something I’d be happy to stand by. If it’s too stupid, too vulgar, too ranty, too obviously poking holes at some piece of malfunctioning software (which anyone will be able to guess the provenance of), well, I’ll think twice about posting it and most likely refrain altogether. It’s a simple filter. If you wouldn’t want anyone to hear it aside from your closest friends and family, you shouldn’t stick it out there.
What I have seen happen time and time again is a split appearing. Two twitter profiles, two blogs, two facebook accounts, you name it. I’ve seen them all. Maybe you’re active in a political or religious setting which are both controversial. You then need two personas to interact with the two groups of people; normal and the controversial crowd – and never the twain shall meet. Maybe you work for a big corporation, like big blue, and you want one blog to talk about what you do at work and showcase your expertise, and the other will be about football and beer (or sewing and fashion, in my case). Same goes for twitter. The problem with this split is that one of the two profiles invariably suffers at the expense of the other. And some day, sooner or later, it just dies. There are only so many hours in a day. And we can only be ourselves.
…doesn’t happen on linked in
Amusingly enough, this is a distinction I have not come across on Linked In. Maybe it’s because the site draws the line by its very nature: this is where your professional persona resides. Clean, clear, crisp. No confusion on that count. In fact, if you start posting things about your children or kittens, well, odds are you will be perceived as unprofesssional and ignored. It’s just not the place for those things, as lovely and cute as they may be. They reside in the personal or friendly sphere, to share with family or friends, not pass around the office. They won’t do anything for your career. (If anyone has a story where these were a good thing, please, I’d love to know!)
ideally, we’d each have three profiles
I would like a world where
- I have an anonymous place to rant.
- A safe place to post nearly what I want and where only my good friends and family will see it.
- A professional portal, to showcase my experience, portfolio, and tell people what I could do for them (Hint: it has to do with websites)
but I’m happy being one well-rounded individual
I am a firm believer of having a single identity and standing by it. I have a single twitter account, one facebook account, one livejournal account, one linked in account, one tumblr account. Nearly all of them are under the same username (@eurydice13). I do have two blogs, (three if you count LJ), but LJ is personal, exintaris.com plays host to all my ponderings on design, writing and social media, and seamstressSophie is a blog dedicated to my sewing projects.
In that respect I am breaking my rule a little, but the sewing would have no place in a professional blog or profile, it’s very clearly a hobby, a very special interest. For now, anyway. So I would strongly advocate that you remain you, and do so on all platforms. A hobby is a way to enrich your profile. If all we did with our lives was work, we’d be very boring people indeed!
one person, thousands of contacts
And the truth is that the people who help us, the friend who knows a friend, we may not meet through work, but through sewing, or baking, or football. We are more multi-faceted than a kaleidoscope, and that’s what makes us great. Why hide it?
miniature success story
So I met this new colleague last week. His name is Paul Crick, and he’s rather brilliant. So of course I looked him up on twitter and linked in as soon as we met. And lo and behold, I found three accounts with his name and two had his photo. It was rather confusing. I read the bios, and they were all him. I finally figured out which one was the most active, and messaged that one as well. Today, I got this tweet back, and it made me smile. I dedicate this post to him.
2 thoughts on “going social: the split personality conundrum”
Nice post Sophie and yes, you did make me think.
As the world becomes ever more transparent it seems slightly ridiculous to contemplate more than one identity. It’s easier – as you suggest – to regulate what gets posted where.
Indeed tools like AboutMe.com make it easy to create a single identity with links off to various conversations / information.Having gone through the thought process there is something empowering in expressing a single identity.
Yes! I know about.me, I use it as a “these are my pages” bookmark. It never shows up on search results though. This blog or linked in trump it every time!