Thursday, June 11, 2009

Discretion and Disclosure

Last night I went out to a bar in Harvard Square with some friends from high school for trivia/karaoke night. Despite getting all the answers right in the first round, we came in last place. Oh well.
I rocked karaoke, though. A group of girls were cheering me on. I felt so loved.

I feel like I'm in a somewhat difficult position when it comes to blogging and other internet activities. How much about my personal life do I want on the internet?

If you google my name, this blog doesn't show up. My LinkedIn profile is the second search result. The rest of the results on the first page are not me. My Twitter page showed up until I removed my last name.

I have my Facebook privacy settings set up so that I do not show up in search engine results. I will show up in a search on Facebook, but only friends and members of my University network can access my profile. I try to pay attention to the privacy settings. There are certain people - some relatives, former campers of mine, colleagues - that can only view my limited profile. The Office of the Dean of Students put out a pamphlet called "Your Face on Facebook: Thinking Carefully, Posting Conscientiously" which encouraged responsible use of social networking sites, reminding students that faculty and future employers may be able to see what you post.

The bit about future employers is where the difficulty comes in for me. I'm always conscious of what shows up on my Facebook profile. There are pictures tagged of me holding a drink - whether in a martini glass at a club or in a ubiquitous red plastic cup - but they're all in good taste. Besides, I'm 22; I'm allowed to drink. You often hear that employers want to hire someone they would have a drink with. If I were really nervous about what potential employers might think of me based on my Facebook profile, I could up my privacy settings. But if I'm going to be working with social media, potential employers need to be able to see that I'm familiar with Facebook and that I use it well. I try to keep a balance between personal and professional. I do not think I will get a vanity url when that option goes live on Saturday. I do not use Facebook in such a way that it would be useful to be able to direct people right to my profile.

For the sake of my job search, I feel that I need to solidify my personal brand. If potential employers search for me on Facebook, yes, I'd like to use it to sell myself. But to what extent? And at what cost to my social life? I use Facebook primarily as a social tool. If I keep it too polished, it won't be of any value.

And then there's this blog. I usually don't share personal details. My first blog - the LiveJournal I had in high school - was all personal. It was a diary that I kept on the web instead of under my pillow. This blog is a little more public. It is attached to the e-mail address I use for both personal and professional correspondence. But when I blog about certain topics - feminism, for example - I like to relate what I'm saying to my own life experiences. In those circumstances, where sincerity matters, I feel confident that I can divulge a little bit more. It's not gratuitous, not gossipy.

Perhaps I will put my last name back onto my Twitter profile. I don't have anything to hide.

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