I have been thinking a lot about the whole “social media” thing, the whole blog thing, the whole “OMG she swears” thing of late and I still don’t have an answer. I have been using Twitter and Facebook for a long-ish time, and I am conflicted.
Just this week, I have been speaking on social networks about my health problems and my quest for a diagnosis. Sure, my friends and family are interested… but does it reflect on my professionalism? Does it help to explain to clients, on a subliminal level, why I might fall behind on occasion? And more importanty, does it *damage* any perception of my professionalism?
Some of my friends think YES. Some think NO. My friends, it seems are pretty well representative of my inner conflict.
We’re all aware of the “Facebook gone wrong” or more recently the furore over the woman who tweeted her miscarriage during a boardroom meeting. Or all the well-meaning advice about appropriate conduct online… and frankly, I am confused as shit about all of it.
Because as the boss of my very own company (that is quite personality-centric), Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways for people to get to know me better. They are also places where I meet old school friends, talk shit with my “real” friends, and network with colleagues and potential and current clients. It feels like a big warm & fuzzy melting pot, where often my status updates take on a life of their own in the comments… and on a good day, it’s all love and kisses and hugs.
But on a bad day, I look at the stuff I share and I am worried about how it looks to people who aren’t in on the joke. And especially to those prospective clients who don’t realise that my online persona is 20% of who I am.
I go through stages where I use social networks a lot. I also go through stages where I just cannot bear to look at any of it and it just becomes too much input… but ultimately, I really enjoy social networking and that “in the moment”, off the cuff kind of communication that I enjoy.
But, you know, I have SAID SOME SHIT. 99% of the time it is tongue-in-cheek, or deliberately provocative, or just plain vulgar (let’s be honest here). You can generally assume that when I say something there is a big fat smiling face behind it… but I am also acutely aware of the fact that a “foul-mouthed smartarse” (which roughly translates as “woman with opinions”) might turn people off.
I mean, I have a business to run and a reputation to uphold.
These constantly-conflicted thoughts run through my head. Ultimately, I end up deciding that a “take no prisoners” approach works for me. I think to have to eat shit and pretend that I *don’t* think these things is probably more damaging in the long run than saying a few dirty words. But it nags me.
Am I just being naive?
Am I seeking instant gratification over long term success?
I go through stages where I lockdown my Twitter feed, or cull Facebook friends (usually because of some interaction with a douchebag who just doesn’t get that I have an online persona separate to me as a person) when I have serious doubts about how my online behaviour might be perceived.
At a meeting with a colleague, he said to me how he talks about my services to (quite important) people, but then inserts a disclaimer “be aware, she swears a LOT” to any potential followers. He doesn’t give me any indication that it’s actually a problem, but I find it interesting that my language is how I am perceived, over the brains, the good friend, the passion & conviction and the armchair amateur comedian that I see myself as.
It’s all a bit. But how do you explain it when worlds collide?
Should a friend who understands what you are about, who is promoting your services, HAVE to explain that? Is that fair to them? And if they don’t, does it hurt them simply by association?
Am I that uncle that hurls abuse at people whilst his family meekly apologise for his behaviour because “we love him, he’s embarrassing, but that’s just how he is.”
Where do you draw the line? What responsibility do I have for that?
Is it arrogant of me to assume that people know (or care) I am being facetious? Or to expect that people automatically know I am a multifaceted, educated, ballsy woman who just happens to enjoy saying the things that no one dare think?
I consider all of these things, briefly, and then I decide “FUCK IT”. And post about my urine jug on Facebook.
My business has exploded since being on Twitter and making connections there… but it would be arrogant to assume that it was because of my brutal honesty and comedic candour… and not that my business could actually be bigger if not for my big fat mouth.
What do you do? How do you reconcile it?