The inspiration for this post came after I read a blog post by one of my most favourite people in the world, Hayley, called ‘Personality Within Professionalism’, and a commentary post by Eve Young titled ‘Should we censor ourselves?’. I strongly encourage you to read those first before continuing with my share of thoughts.
It’s not that I’ve never thought about what I put online. In the past, I have deleted numerous tweets, posts, even entire blogs because I was too scared that someone I know might find it and judge me for it. I had built up a decent amount of following on Tumblr, but as soon as a question came in which could have only come from someone I know in real life, I deleted the whole thing. Too great was the burden of keeping myself to myself, for the fear of being misunderstood.
For nearly a year, I have been in my first proper full-time job. I work as an Executive Assistant, which means that I have a close relationship with the CEO and somewhat represent him in day-to-day situations; even more so, it does state in my contract that acting on behalf of him is part of my responsibilities. With that, I have felt a greater, a different, pressure of keeping my online identity clean; of not giving anyone a chance to reflect badly on me and, ultimately, my work and my boss.
Therefore, the question that arose was: should I keep my social media profiles in harmony with the person I am at work? My simple answer to that is No.
“Could it be that we’ve become so desperate to impress that we’ve lost sight of the qualities that would make us stand out in the first place?”
Now, there are restrictions on this. I would not purposefully risk my job by putting words and pictures on my social media channels which will ultimately shine a bad light on not only me as an online identity but me as an entire human being, reflecting a range which could easily cost me my job in the most mundane way.
But I am also not going to change who I am as Lisa; a girl who loves books & coffee, Alice in Wonderland & Harry Potter; who rants about her pet peeves and Transport for London on Twitter, who puts poetry and selfies on Instagram, who’s got thoughts and feelings to share in order to connect and help others. This is who I am, this is who I want to be, and I am going to stand up for myself.
“In my opinion, if an employer reads a blog or a thread of Tweets you’ve written […] and then comes to the conclusion that you’re an undesirable, that means they don’t share your core values or would dismiss them and in that case, are they somebody you really want to work for anyway?”
I guess ultimately it comes down to which career you plan to go into, how important your online presence is to you and others, and how much it could affect your work if you put the ‘wrong’ photo up on Instagram. Different sectors require different behaviours, and consequently, this is a very individual approach to make.
Just keep this in mind: the only person you are stuck with forever is yourself, and if I were you, I’d rather get along with them. So if being yourself online means someone comes to the conclusion you cannot do your job properly, it might be time to move on.