Below is a post I did for Digital Pivot. While there is some overlap, this blog tends to get visitors who don’t read Digital Pivot, and I think the question is a valid one for everyone, so I wanted to see if there were some folks here that would comment, too:
I’ve had the topic of personal vs. professional online activity come up in Twitter discussions and during presentations to folks wanting to explore social media. It seems that whether we’ve been at this for a while or it’s a strange new playground, none of us are really very comfortable making a decisive argument about how your personal and professional life should or shouldn’t collide via your online activities. (I wonder how George Costanza would survive the Internet!?!)
If I make a bad pun or a risque comment on Twitter, and it’s been known to happen, should that impact how people treat me at work? If a picture of me gets posted on Facebook or Flickr for the world to see and I’m doing something that others wouldn’t agree with, is that a problem for me in a business meeting later? If a blog post I write is written specifically to provoke a discussion but someone who does business with my company disagrees, will that come back to haunt my employer?
David Mullen recently blogged about how teens and twenty-somethings may start to leave Facebook because they’re finding it too creepy to have family members befriending them, among other reasons. But as the comments responding to his blog point out, there isn’t anywhere these folks are going to go where they won’t be facing the same problem. And it’s a problem a lot of us are facing or will face at some point in our careers.
Obviously, if you do something illegal, profane or just plain idiotic and post it for the world to see, then there’s no question you’ll feel the repercussions later. But is the line between personal life and business life now blended so much that it’s becoming imaginary?
What should we be telling people looking to join us in the online universe? Is this like Big Brother watching everything we’re doing, only we’re some sort of insane masochists who volunteer to be watched?
How do we caution them about the downside without scaring them off? Should we be scaring them just enough that they think twice before posting something — or maybe even three times? Or does that defeat the whole point of the instant communication, instant reaction, instant gratification world of Web 2.0 that so many of us find attractive?
Please offer your opinions below — don’t make me write something provocative just to elicit a response. My boss might not like it. 😉