Separating Personal and Professional Life

The internet is a crazy thing. Like any tool it has it’s uses and misuses. But this is the internet and it’s the most powerful communication tool ever invented by man. It has brought the world together even better then television and Coca Cola.

So many of us spend so much of our time on the internet these days. We express ourselves through this second world we’ve created in so many different ways. We write blogs about our political, religious and sexual views. We buy things, we join communities centered around hobbies we share with others. We upload pictures of our birthday parties, trips and nights out on the town. We share our artwork with the world for feedback and exposure. We upload videos of ourselves doing quirky things and expressing our points of view. We even look for jobs and communicate with clients through the internet. There are so many things that we use this tool for.

However as our world begins to shrink because of the internet and people become connected everywhere, how do we separate the various pieces of our lives and ourselves? When you use the internet both personally and professionally, how do you keep both in their respective corners?

Even if your job is not internet based, there is a pretty good chance someone you work with (be it a co-worker, boss or client) may find something of your personal life on the internet. At which point, what do you do?

Most of you probably know I’m a fairly eccentric guy. I have a lot of interests and the internet is one of my outlets for both expressing and discovering those interests. I’m also the type that tends to be very open about myself.
But this morning when I walked into work and one of my bosses asked to talk to me about a listing someone at work found in the casual encounters section of craigslist, with a picture of myself, I wasn’t quite sure what to say at first.
My first thought was, “what were they doing there themselves?” followed by “why would they then come to this boss of mine and express that they too were browsing this section of craigslist and saw me”. I’m not going to go into any more further depth of what I had speculated, but I will say my boss was pretty cool about it. She said she was just looking out for me in case one of our more conservative bosses or perhaps a client I’ve worked with happened upon it.

This is one of the problems with taking out ads like this on the internet. On one hand you want to put it on a site where you will get the most traffic so as to expect the most amount of responses. But in doing so you also risk someone seeing it who you may not prefer to see it. Like a boss or client.

But it just got me thinking how I would go about living my personal life the way I choose while still being responsible to the company I work for. If this applies to me, it must also apply to everyone else out there.

As I ended the conversation with her, I said “whoever figures out how to find a way to keep peoples personal and professional lives separate on the internet, is going to be a billionaire.”

But as I considered it more and more, it began to dawn on me. You can never control this kind of thing. Sure you can be conservative about what you put of yourself on the internet. That is one tactic many people use. But for those of us that are more open about ourselves and don’t want to limit our experience on the internet, there is really only one solution. Don’t limit yourself. Society is eventually going to have to come to terms with all of this technology and open communication. As it’s all still so new we’re just beginning to fumble through it. But the only real way to make it work is to just accept people for who they are as a whole and what they can do for you.

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0 thoughts on “Separating Personal and Professional Life

  1. I heard some lady got hired by cisco systems and twittered she was going to do work she hated and didnt get the job because cisco people saw it… lol … so yeah seperating personal from professional might be impossible these days..

  2. I’m like you.  I wondered why they would have even found it.  Why does the ad even matter?  It’s personal, not professional and they should not expect you to live your life according to THEIR expectations. 

    I would understand a little more if the ad was something about videography or photography.  A side business type thing, but the ad we had up has NOTHING to do with your job or clients. 

  3. P.S.  That also makes ME have to live according to their standards as well, and that just is not kosher!

  4. I think the best way to do it is to protect as much of it as you can. For example, my facebook is filled with pictures of me drinking and partying it up when I was in college. When I was looking for jobs, I worried that people would find me on facebook and not hire me, so I made the whole thing private. You have to be my friend to see anything. Also, same with Xanga. Mine is on sign-in lock and I don’t have an RSS feed and I’ve blocked it from being indexed on Google…so you can’t find me and if one did, they would actually have to go through the trouble of registering just to read me. Of course, I get less traffic but I’d rather be comfortable knowing that I can be free to write whatever without wondering who saw what. 

  5. It’s all stupid.  We live in a society where everywhere we go, we have to wear a “mask;” a work mask, a school mask, an out in public mask…  I think separation is the last thing we need, that’s what we’ve already got!  We need to conjoin all of the masks into one “this is who I am, take it or leave it” mask, which, theoretically, wouldn’t be a mask at all, but the lack thereof.

    But then again, when you’re working with clients, there should definitely be somewhat of a line to be drawn depending on what kind of work you’re doing.  It’s all crazy…

  6. @desertrose2890 - Of course the downside to that is that you aren’t really free. You’re trapped inside whatever little bubble you’ve created for yourself on the internet. If you want to meet new people or have new people discover you and what you write about, you have to invite them into that bubble. The problem with that is that people don’t usually discover things that are locked down. Instead they just don’t bother and move on. 

    Even so I understand the philosophy you have and it works for some people. If it works for you then great. But the internet is what it is today not because people trapped themselves inside fortress-like websites, but because people kept the doors open.  

  7. @Soul_Pizza - I agree with you. That’s kind of the point I was making at the end of this entry. That society is going to just have to open up and accept people for who they are. We are fluid beings. We have opinions and we make mistakes, we learn and grow. The internet has a memory better then an elephant, with google search history and the internet archive people will be able to see what you were doing 10+ years ago. Including the pictures you posted, your views on politics, sex, religion, work, ect. Even if those views you hold are different now. But should it matter if it was 10 years ago or yesterday? We just need to come to a point of acceptance.

  8. @roxics – Oh good point. I never thought of it like that. I guess I am just scared of people finding out what I really think because I do post a lot of personal stuff on my xanga. You make a really good point in that I am not really free and new people do not really discover me. Which defeats the whole purpose of the internet, of course. I’ll have to rethink some things with regards to that. I guess being totally open requires having no fear and no shame in what you write or post about yourself, which I have yet to accomplish. Either way, you make an excellent point. 

  9. @desertrose2890 - You know I’ve come to a certain conclusion myself when it comes to being open about who I am. Those that will judge me are speaking more about themselves then they are of me. What I mean is, as an example, if you judge me for having short hair you really aren’t saying anything negative about me having short hair, instead what you’re saying is that you don’t like short hair. Well, do I care? It’s only if I care that it would even affect me.

    Lets face it, it is what it is. We are who we are. If we constantly go around in fear of what other people think of us or certain actions we take or certain ways we live our lives then will we ever be truly happy?

  10. @roxics – Dammit, you speak the truth. Honestly, I do have that fear of what others will think of me, which is why I do censor myself when it comes to a lot of things. I am going to try and be more open because I really am tired of worrying about what others think! What the hell, I might even take off the sign-in lock thing that I have. Anyways, this was a rather thought provoking post for me…nice!

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