Home > Facebook, privacy, social computing, Uncategorized > Personal and Professional, All Mixed Up

Personal and Professional, All Mixed Up

When my friend Ian Strain-Seymour made a private twitter account, separate from his professional one, I thought that was a pretty great idea. I tried it too. I’ve written about that here before. I was optimistic about it: put personal info on the personal/locked account, talk about work on the public/open account. I had a simple rule for who to add on my personal account: people who were invited to my wedding (and don’t work with me currently). Ie, real close friends. It seemed like a good idea.

I’ve tried it now a while, and it’s not really working. There’s one main reason: my friends (other than Ian) are not doing the same thing. So while I was posting cute kid stuff there (that I wouldn’t inflict on the general public), high-school buddy Paul Haahr was posting mostly work stuff. If Paul and my other wedding invitees had two accounts, it might’ve worked. But with social media technologies, you can’t just choose how you use it–how everyone else uses it shapes what makes sense for you too. It’s hard to unilaterally decide to be different.

At the same time, my Facebook usage has gotten somewhat more personally oriented lately. As more family come on Facebook, I’m more likely to post the cute thing Evan (4) said, and get responses back from Evan’s aunts and grandparents. My cousin Gilda never says anything on Facebook, but whenever we talk on the phone she says “oh, I saw that on Facebook!” I like sharing personal stuff with my cousin and extended family. A short article mentioned this blog in Le Monde a few weeks ago, and one of my french cousins was kind enough to assure me that the article made sense (I don’t remember as much from french class as I wish!) This is new for me and it works. Except  now it puzzles me why I’m sharing this stuff with my professional friends.

Maybe I should try having two Facebook accounts. No, wait…. 😉

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  1. April 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Amy,

    I briefly considered going with 2 Twitter accounts as well (less for privacy reasons and more so I might stop spamming professional contacts with Lady Gaga comments and stop spamming friends with links to social network studies).

    I have seen my Facebook and Twitter accounts diverge similarly – I’ve been hesitant to add professional contacts on my Facebook, as it’s become the realm of mostly social (i.e. no broad information value) sharing.

    In the end, the trick to separate networks is that they’re most successful when everyone kind of agrees on their purpose. LinkedIn would lose its function if everyone was posting party pics on there, and I personally think Facebook becomes less useful as any type of measure of one’s ‘true social network’ when people ‘friend’ promiscuously. I’d be curious to see if there are people who view things up differently.

  2. April 23, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Facebook, as you probably know, specifies in its TOS that one person is not allowed to have multiple accounts. How/if this is enforced, I don’t know.

    I imagine as Facebook starts to take over more of the world they will be forced to implement some feature to deal with the kind of problem you describe, like maintaining different lists for different classes of acquaintances.

    As I said before somewhere, it’s too much of a pain to maintain one online identity, let alone multiples.

    • April 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

      You were right Mike! 🙂

      I also think you can’t really post stuff that you wouldn’t want everyone to see even in a ‘private’ forum, because your readers might not respect that, and you also at some late/tired moment might send it to the wrong channel.

  3. beki70
    April 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

    This reminds me somewhat of email accounts. Of course we all have an abundance of email accounts, but I remember when I first attempted to have two for work and personal messages. I couldn’t make that work either…

    I’d love to know whether people have attempted to characterise the different types of facebook user. I’m pretty heavy on the messages (indeed I just had a conversation with someone who was going to block me… sigh 😉 but I’m quite surprised by the number of people who interact with me in the way that your cousin Gilda does, to start a conversation with me based on a facebook comment. The number of conversations I’ve had, say, about when I am going to get a new car increased substantially yesterday. And then, I must admit to being proud that a couple of people have told me how funny they find some of my facebook feed. Since I actually try to make it so, I’m glad when it works. Well, even as I type this the TMSP workshop is going on, I wonder whether they’re discussing any of these ideas.

  4. April 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Integrate! I’ve given up trying to maintain separate work and social identities. It’s just too much effort. It’s also a false dichotomy. I’ve found that I like it when people’s personal life leaks into their work stuff, I love seeing the occasional family picture or notes on a favourite restaurant mixed in with details of coding and research. So I’m just brand Nelson on my blog, and on Twitter, and folks can either take it or leave it.

    PS: I didn’t know you knew Paul Haahr! I got to know him when we worked together a few years back.

    • April 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

      Small world!
      Paul and I went to high school together.
      I was sys admin of our PDP11 my senior year, and Haahr was the next. 🙂

      Yeah, I do like some of the personal stuff from some of my work friends. The mix feels weird, but maybe we’ll all get used to it….

  5. April 23, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Of course, if your company or workplace is blocking employee access to Twitter social media apps, then that effectively negates the need for the 2nd persona!

    If you fall into this category, here’s a helpful resource. It’s a whitepaper called “To Block or Not. Is that the question?”

    http://bit.ly/9f8WOT

    It has lots of insightful and useful information about identifying and controlling Enterprise 2.0 apps (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, SharePoint, etc.)

    Share it with the IT Dept.

  6. goatchowder
    May 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    A friend summed this up very nicely the other night: “What I liked about Facebook is that it let you RESTRICT who could see your stuff, unlike Twitter or MySpace, you could tune what friends or non-friends could and could not see. Now that you can’t do that anymore, Facebook is no better than the rest of them.”

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