July 1, 2009

My life is a lie

In this world of Facebook status updates and Twitter-led microblogging (and, hey!, full length blogging too), it's easy to feel like everyone's always all up in your business. But, lately, real life has gotten in the way of this for me.

In March, Trevor and I decided to apply for staff positions at the camp in San Diego County where we met and got married. This set off a chain of events – this wasn't just a decision to think about changing jobs; if accepted, we would be moving across country. It's beyond ironic that with this going on in our lives, not once could I gather opinions, vent or share excitement on Facebook and Twitter. These are communities that know what I'm eating, drinking and reading on a minute to minute basis, but actual life decisions are off limits for discussion?

This begs the question: Was this really off limits? Should I have been perfectly comfortable sharing every step of the process with friends, strangers and co-workers alike? Is this where the world of social media is leading us - this is my life, accept it?Already, most of us have a filter through which we share information online, but is that filter getting thinner? How long before all of us (not just the attention starved) are posting:
  • Off to meet my mistress
  • I can't wait to quit this job
  • Hooking up with a co-worker
  • I'm thinking about breaking up with my girlfriend
  • Proposing tonight!
How involved you want the anonymous interweb to be in your life is a personal decision. Maybe it’s just the marketer in me, but I think that those of us who choose to participate in social networking have essentially created our own brands. And just like major organizations have to carefully cultivate their brands – allowing for evolution, while also keeping them under tight control – so do we. Unlike any generation before us, we are creating records of ourselves that will be incredibly easy to access for years to come (even when we un-tag photos of ourselves, and eventually delete our profiles, highlights can be preserved on any number of websites) – so it’s essential that we be conscious of what we’re putting out there now. While it was hard for me at first to deal with my Dad being on Facebook, I now think about it this way: If I’m not okay with my Dad seeing it now, I probably won’t be okay with my kids seeing it in 15 years. That’s my own personal Brand Test.

Another, more current, Personal Brand Test is: Do I want my boss to see this? And that’s the question I was answering by leaving the job/move decisions off my social networks. Yes, I would have preferred to give notice at my current job 3 months ago, but that’s just not practical – why pay to keep someone around when they have no future at this company? I also could have maintained my social media brand as a personal space only, without connecting to anyone I’m involved with professionally. It’s a feasible alternative that many people use, but for me, someone who works in marketing, is interested in communities, and would like to use social media in her career, it doesn’t make sense to leave professional connections out of my social network.

So the solution was to just keep it all a secret (and be near-paranoid about what was getting posted on my Facebook wall). Without using social media, we dealt in traditional ways – you know, finding condo tenants through Craigslist and spreading the news via email. But now it’s all out there (hey! We got the jobs! Moving in August!), and not only can I start sharing this new part of my life with all of y’all, I can also start getting input from the smart people who surround me virtually each day on a whole bunch of decisions. Let’s make up for lost time:
  • What are the three things I need to make SURE I’ve done in Boston before I move?
  • How should we prepare our poor cat for a cross-country road trip?
  • Do you know anyone who needs their car moved from New England to the West Coast in August?
  • And while we’re at it: Have you had a circumstance where you struggled with the line between your internet life and your real life? How have you dealt?


readerbean said...

Congrats Ashley (and Trevor)! Such exciting news. Good luck with the move and I can't wait to read all about your adventures in San Diego!

Re: three things you MUST do in Boston before you leave...hmmm...good question. For me one of was a Duck Tour! Eating at some of my favorite spots and visiting my favorite towns of Newburyport & Newport one last time before I moved away! And of course spending as much time out with friends as I possibly could!

When in August do you move?