Saturday, January 17, 2009

Separation of Church and State?


Is it possible to separate your personal and social media? An article in Mashable got me thinking about it. There are lots of opinions about this--Just Google "professional vs. personal social media". The chart above sums up how I feel about personal and professional social media or Web in general. The larger and more old school a company or industry is, the larger the gap gets. In my case, I want the gap to be larger.

After thinking about this over the last couple of days and reading the various points of view, I'm in the camp that feels it's simply not realistic.

The Web never forgets

Here's why: Google. Unless you meticulously delineated your personal and professional identities when the Web was invented, you're going to be hard pressed to keep the two worlds separated. You would have had to made sure you had different usernames for personal vs. professional. Separate emails. All seprate accounts for EVERYTHING.

I have articles from 14 years ago that are from a publication that went out of business showing up when you search my name. I have op-ed pieces I sent in to the local paper from 20 years ago. And on and on it goes. You can't delete these things and you can't hide from them. It seems like new, old stuff keeps showing up each month when I Google myself (This is something we all should do on a regular basis).

So what now?

I decided to make some intentional separations between personal and professional where it made sense and it was reasonable to do so and maintain. At the end of the day, I have to be comfortable with what I'm putting out there whether it's a friend, employer, potential employer or the government.

By doing this I can also have friends, colleagues and the general Web audience decide what they want to read about me--to a point. It's up to everyone else to filter me out in whatever way they choose to do so.

The first step is to have two separate blogs: (professional) and (personal). It will take me a couple of weeks to get it done and tweaked, but I'll commit to it for at least a year and re-evaluate this strategy in 2010.


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