You know those days when you have too much to do and too many projects that need to be completed but there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day or an end in sight? In these moments I close my eyes and think about how magnificent life would be if I had a taxidermic friend, Fitzwilliam Marten, who wears the finest Victorian attire. Why wouldn’t he wear a top hat and carry a walking stick; he’s not a commoner! Unfortunately, Fitzwilliam is going to go home with some other lucky lady as I don’t have one hundred bucks laying around waiting to be spent on AWESOMENESS. It’s just as well, I don’t remember any of Jane Austen’s heroines riding into the sunset with a ferret.
It was a debate of workplace magnitude. To friend or not to friend (on Facebook)? I argued passionately on the side of “not to friend” but to connect via LinkedIn. My coworkers took the stance of friending, far and wide, on Facebook. We were at a stalemate and I wondered if I am simply too cautious or if they are playing with fire.
Let me back up. Over the years, I have worked with several organizations and maintained great friendships with colleagues. However, as a person with a healthy distrust of the Internet, I try to maintain a separation of personal and professional relationships. I don’t want future bosses making snap judgements about my work ethic based on political leanings, musical taste, and photos with friends and family. Until I see some hard and fast rules about ethical hiring and firing practices based on internet searches, I will ardently maintain my personal anonymity. I suppose my inherent distrust of the Web can be attributed to growing up in a pre-Internet generation, along with a hefty dose of Orwellian fear.
My colleagues, on the other hand, are recent college graduates and maintain a sizable Facebook base upwards of 1,000 or more “friends.” They friend classmates, friends, coworkers, and bosses alike and believe it’s impossible to separate the personal from the professional. So, when I told them I prefer to connect on LinkedIn, or friend them after my contract comes to an end, they were offended. They believe anyone with a wide Internet presence; i.e. website, blog, Facebook business page, and other social media tools, is a fool to think they can create boundaries. Maybe they’re right, maybe it is ridiculous to believe my one hold out, a single Facebook page, shares any more or less about my personality and personal beliefs than my blog, twitter feed, or website.
The question to you is where do you draw the line? Is it naive to believe a person can maintain separate personal and professional identities on the Internet?
Despite the fact that I’ve been a terrible blogger these past few months, I am diligently developing my consulting business – mostly because I like keeping the lights on and food in the fridge. I promise I’ll have real posts coming soon but in the meantime take a look at my updated website and “like” my new Facebook page – it’s almost as though I have a real business or something. I must be an adult!