October 24, 2008

Am I Two-Faced? Are You?

Pondering how and whether to integrate or fragment my two selves. As I participate more and more in online social media and networking spaces, I find myself faced with difficult choices. I have so many personas:

  1. Librarian
  2. Information architect / taxonomist / metadata queen
  3. Curator of content at the Resource Center
  4. Promoter of social media to nonprofits
  5. Social media enthusiast
  6. Mom / family member / social being

Some of these could be combined without too much fuss. It wouldn't be horribly jarring for librarians to read about my IA (information architecture) interests, though it might bore the IA community to read about my library stuff. So, OK, combine 1) and 2).

It could make sense to combine my overall resources for community service programs and nonprofits with my specific resources for them about using social media. So, OK, combine 3) and 4).

5 is problematic. Although some do, most of my nonprofit peeps don't want to hear about every little development on friendfeed, or learn about 27 brand new lifestreaming startups. Ditto for my librarian peeps. Some care, most don't. Where do I draw the line? Clearly I'm overthinking this.

But 6 is problematic too. So many people encourage us to be ourselves online, share a bit of our personal lives and we become more human to potential clients, bosses, funders, or future colleagues. I don't have a problem with this in theory, but often the joy of online social spaces is that people can become quite intimate (and no, I'm not talking cybersex here, but simply confessions, sharing, revealing aspects of one's personal life, engaging with emotional honesty). It is difficult to control who does and doesn't have access to that world.

Because these concerns were present in my mind, I initially started down the road of having separate online presences in several places. On YouTube, I have an account for me, and one for my work (which is meant literally to represent our project, the Resource Center, not just work-related stuff). On delicious, I did the same, but that is becoming a huge pain in the butt. The resulting workflow has been that if I happen to be logged in as myself, I add a tag which alerts me that I should port the link over to the Resource Center account. Can you spell "inefficient"? Yet, it is way too unprofessional to send people to /lnorvig/serviceresources instead of /serviceresources AND, I do need to add organized and specific tags to everything on /serviceresources. Curses.

Then came Squidoo. I have two accounts there also. One represents persona 4., the other is persona 6 plus an experiment (quickly abandoned) to see if Squidoo could actually bring in any revenue.

Now I'm starting to think the Resource Center needs to be on Twitter and Facebook. And I know I should just consider that part of my work, like I would "become" the Resource Center during the day and hang out in social media spaces as that entity, but I already feel two-faced enough as it is.

How about you? Are you two-faced? How do you blend or separate the personal and the professional online?


gregory said...

we are only part way to where we, and all of this, is going .. which is getting paid for being who we are ... the divisions into categories are remnants of the old paradigm .. and better to live in the new ...

Matt said...

I’m definitely with you. Most of my social media accounts are under “jjhill_library” and while their primary purpose is to tell the Library’s story to potential clients, the nature of socializing sometimes finds me talking about rock and roll shows. Which, I think, is okay. I’m not particularly interested in seeing a feed of library programs on Twitter; I can get that on demand from the library’s web site. Social media is more about personality. And injecting personality, (even as muted and stony a personality as mine;) into an organization is one way of making stronger professional connections. I don’t have any of these accounts just for myself, though, which might be trouble when/if I move on from this job or when/if I want to use them for strictly personal stuff. That was the long answer. The short answer is: Yes, definitely two-faced.

Bobbi Newman said...

yep I have separate accounts, or some services I only use professionally, like twitter. You're right it is hard to be real and personable online while still appearing professional.

Laura said...

Matt, thanks for your comments, I love the way you worded that about injecting personality to make stronger professional connections.

Bobbi, I don't really find it hard to be both personable and professional at the same time, but I still struggle with whether or not to create multiple accounts so that I can "let it all hang out" and connect with my real life friends and talk about things that are just a bit too personal for the world at large.

raincoaster.com said...

I'm less two-faced than I was, given that in the beginning raincoaster had hostile stalkers and lorraine murphy did not. I wanted to maintain that separation.

As I learned how to deal with stalkers, etc, and as the raincoaster persona got more popular worldwide, I started to see benefits of connecting them.

My identity on Facebook is raincoaster. I have friends who call me raincoaster. Heck, men I've dated call me raincoaster sometimes, although not at those times! But because of Facebook's rules it could all go Poof at any time. Yet I signed on as raincoaster because easily a thousand times as many people know raincoaster as know lorraine.

I decided to connect the two once I started teaching. raincoaster was leverageable, while lorraine was not, and I wanted to throw everything I had at this.

There was some soul-searching around it, given past experiences and (frankly) some consideration of the raincoaster brand (tentacled, Machiavellian evil genius) and how that would work with lorraine, but it's all worked out pretty well. My tweets like "you had me at 'armed robbery'" haven't hurt my real life business; if anything, they've helped.

But by god, you've got to know who you are before you do that. Because lorraine could handle raincoaster, if you know what I mean. If you've built a frankenstein then you should not connect those dots, no matter how big the audience for the frankendentity, because there is no peace of mind in that.

I'm not being paid by the word, so I'll sign off now.

Laura said...

Cool, raincoaster, thanks for your comments! I think it has to be the way of the future, this whole thing of just being yourself, the transparency thing. I do notice that I just naturally rein myself in just a tad as I continue to blend my personal and professional personas.