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.