Multiple Personas

I’ve been thinking about all the different online “personas” I have, after a recent conversation over on The Third Eve‘s blog.

I can think of several categories that I could organize my online personas into:

Waldorf/anthroposophy–including this blog, Yahoo groups, philosophyoffreedom.com, and others

Professional–including this blog, LinkedIn, the EFA, Monster, the Copyediting-L Listserv, and others

Social networking–Facebook, Orkut, Ning, etc. (pretty much I only use Facebook at this point)

Fun stuff–this blog, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Craftster, Flickr, etc.

I normally keep these worlds fairly separate. I identify my “real” name and self on some of these sites, but I keep my blog semi-anonymous. That used to be out of a vague fear for my kids’ safety, which I no longer believe is a big issue. But why keep them separate?

Waldorf and anthroposophy are, to be honest, fairly fringe in the larger scheme of things. My typical thought is something like “I don’t want any potential clients to think I’m some weirdo and not hire me.” But is that realistic? Is it really that weird, or is it simply something I’m interested in and since most people have never heard of it, it’s not an issue? Would anyone even care? I know of several freelance editors who have personal blogs that the freely link to, some of which are overtly political, for example. It doesn’t seem to affect their success.

I guess I just wonder about why my personal life should be connected in any way to my professional life. Why should I link my online selves in such a way that they should intersect at all? Why should my work life be in any way connected with my Flickr account, which is filled with photos of my kids and home?

This comes up for me especially in regard to marketing myself as a freelance editor. I’m using LinkedIn, the EFA, and other sources, but I wonder about putting up my resume (especially as I just revamped it and think it looks pretty cool!) or other details here on my Editing page. They say that the more places you are online, the higher your Google and other search engine rankings will be…and therefore the higher likelihood that people will contact you.

What say ye, O twelve loyal readers?

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9 Comments

Filed under Blogging, computers, freelancing

9 responses to “Multiple Personas

  1. I’m still trying to sort these things out myself. I don’t really have a professional life at this point so that’s not really an issue for me. My blog is in some ways quite personal- I only tell very close friends about it. It’s just not my general habit to reveal so much about myself in everyday life. On the other hand, anyone with internet access can read my blog if they choose, so it can’t be too personal. I do edit what I say because of this. Clear as mud?

  2. goodwitchonline

    When I first started my blog, for about 24 hours, I had a link to my business; then, I decided that I wanted the blog to be separate from my everyday life. I want to be able to speak frankly, vent about my days/my work/my neighbourhood w/o risk of censure. I am even uncomfortable posting too many photos of the girls.

    So I guess it depends upon you personal wishes for the blog, and what you are willing to accept if something goes wrong. You could always keep anthromama anon and set up a blog for business, and favourite yourself!

    It’s a hard decision and I promise not to hack your identity no matter what! 🙂

    (BTW, the weirdest thing for me is when my anon blog world and my id’d forums intersect, generally with the commenter not knowing.)

  3. domesticallyblissed

    I struggle with this – I would LOVE to post photos of my daughter on line, but agreed with my husband that I wouldn’t – I don’t think its majorly risky but I respect his wishes on it! Only two of my very good friends know about my blog – I don’t want to lose the freedom blogging gives me to share – and I think if other friends read it I wouldn’t be able to be so free. Its a hard balance isn’t it!

  4. Nana

    Why don’t you think of your work persona as if you were going into an office environment each day and don’t know the other people in the office? What types of information would you share?

    Your approach to any Internet posting should be even more restricted than in the above scenario, as it is available to anyone wishing to access it.

    While I share a lot of my personal life with a few co-corkers with whom I have a very long and close relationship, I do not share everything. And these conversations are no longer available as soon as they are over.

    Be careful and stay safe.

  5. Dawn: The whole public/private aspect of blogging is weird, isn’t it? It’s like people are reading your diary, only you write it to be read!

    Goodwitch: There is the desire to be more free to write here, but also the desire to keep open the possibility of gaining work connections through online friends. I guess I need to decide which is more important.

    Domestic: Welcome! (I peeked at Goodwitch’s link to your blog the other day…I’ll be back!) I’ve struggled with the question of posting photos of my kids too. I do it because it’s one place for friends and family to see current photos of them. I did have a weird experience with a link to one of my blog posts about my son, which led me to give them pseudonyms.

    Nana: That’s a good way to look at it. I struggle with trying not to act out of fear, though. It’s easy to forget that blogs are freely searchable and findable as long as the blog host still exists. I sometimes shake my head with wonder when I see what Google searches bring people here!

  6. It’s definitely a tricky balance. I’d say that I keep my work(ish) focused blog fairly separate from Relaxed Parents and that RP has a lot of material on that I wouldn’t share with my workplace but I don’t put anything on either that I’d be worried about being ambushed about at an interview. There are points of intersection here and there but you’d have to know what you were looking for. As you know, I’ve always used pseudonyms for supermum, dudelet and dudelette.

  7. Eve

    I keep personal and professional separate now. I didn’t used to, but I have experienced some difficult repercussions in the past from having the two linked; hence, the distance now.

    For example, a few times I have had my personal on-line presence come up in court cases. I’ve done a lot of court-based advocacy, acted as an expert witness etc. and in some adversarial situations have had the opposition use comments I’ve made on line against me.

    I’ve also been stalked on line, which has spilled over into my personal life. Put it all together, and I’d just prefer to say “no.”

    I’ll also say this: I think that some people’s complexity does not lend itself handily to a single decipherable online presence. You may not be one of those; but I am, and so I try to keep things separated, as my past experience has made that the most sensible choice. In your situation, I can’t see any reason to keep things so separate. However, the world is full of nutty people so I tend to be somewhat conservative.

  8. Nana

    When it comes to your children’s safety, you need to be ever vigilant and fearful. They can’t watch out for themselves and we Do Not live in a perfect world where everyone is kind and has good intentions.

    People need to earn your trust and that can’t happen if you don’t know them.

  9. Bex

    I say just be you. Can’t go wrong there can ya? Xxx

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