When you have a career you are passionate about, you can slip down the rabbit hole of making it your entire life. You may get ahead for a little while, but at some point, you are going to face a situation where you have to find some way to step back from the career and refresh yourself. If you haven’t developed friendships/hobbies/interests outside of the career, taking this needed step may be beyond your abilities. Things with my job have been a bit rocky the last few weeks. Refuge has been found in the form of my knitting group, watching the Olympics, and rereading what I consider a “comfort” series of books. I have consciously made the decision to not discuss the issues in my social networks. I did this because I viewed it as the professional thing to do, as well as the healthy thing to do. I discussed the issues with a few very close friends, but these were people who I speak with and see outside the realm of my job on a daily or weekly basis. I did this because I needed an outside perspective, and the support of people who would not judge me or the issues.
My social networks have also been an escape for me. My Twitter account is very much a mix of professional and personal interests. As are my FriendFeed and Facebook accounts. Each has a different make-up of persons I interact with, and each serves a different social function for me. For all their differences, my networks know me as a multi-dimensional person. I’m just not good at compartmentalizing myself.
Recently, a friend of mine has felt the need to separate her professional and personal online presences. I understand her dilemma and support the decision she felt was in her best interests at this point in time. This is something I have struggled with and took action with on Facebook. Facebook is where I connect with family and friends of mine who I know outside of the job. Yes, I know you can do limited profiles, but I’d rather hunker down and just limit whom I’m connected with there in the first place. My friend’s situation brought back to life my concerns of how future potential employers may view my online presences. Except for my Facebook account, I purposefully have kept my social network profiles open to the public. By doing this, I haven’t let myself fall into the trap of thinking that someone couldn’t get into what I considered private missives. Even with Facebook, I know perfectly well that if someone wanted to crack that account, they could. However, by living a “public” life on the Internet, I also know I could be hurting my chances for advancing in my career. I can’t whitewash my past, and censoring myself to the point where I may as well have no opinion or personality at all is not feasible. This isn’t to say I post every little thought that flits through my head, or those that even make it to where they’re one keystroke away from appearing in some status update somewhere. Make the delete key just as much of a habit as the enter key.
Also, it’s always a good thing to recognize the point where you’re just rambling 🙂 Life is meant for living, but live in a way where you’ll have the least amount of regrets.