Let me put it out there… I am about this social media life. I have a public Twitter profile that I use for networking purposes, posting articles, sharing resources, and keeping up with current events. I have a private InstaGram profile that I use to post my selfies, hilarious memes, and nail art. But I also have two Facebook profiles. One of my Facebook profiles is public, searchable, and carries my government name. Another profile is private
(and by private, I mean… are you my cousin? Did we attend school together? Did we have a fantastic colleague relationship that turned into a friendship & you’d like to keep in touch? Do we have so many mutual friends that it makes sense to friend you on the private profile? Was there an introduction facilitated between mutual friends? Do I think you’re dope and just want to be updated on the dope things that you do? Do you care about the fact that I unashamedly post about my love for birthday cake ice cream? As you can see, I have questions).
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about navigating social media as a millennial professional. There are quite a few reasons for this. There was a time when I facilitated workshops on the subject. Most of the work that I do in writing (student affairs related and / or otherwise) is promoted via social media. Monitoring & assisting with content for social media sites (on behalf of others) is something that I do quite regularly; it’s exciting, fast-paced, and I’m able to learn more about it on-the-go. So when the questions come up about friending, unfriending, following, public accounts, & private accounts, I’m always intrigued.
Over time, I’ve heard the following lines of thought regarding the use of social media platforms:
From Students and / or Younger Millennials
- I engage differently, depending on the platform (i.e. Snapchat as a newer space to move into, high engagement via Twitter & InstaGram, lower engagement on Facebook, as parents / families have now joined)
From Colleagues, Friends, & Family
- It takes too much to maintain two separate social media accounts… I just change my settings
- I also have two separate accounts (I don’t hear this one too often, but it is mentioned at times)
- If you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t post it online at all… people can search it, no matter what you do!
- I have one Facebook account and there is a process that I use to make decisions about who I accept as a “friend” and who I do not. These include…
- Having two accounts seems sneaky! What are you posting on one that you cannot post on the other?
So, why do I have two separate accounts? As I said before, I spent a lot of time in the Theater, and Rule #1.43286782 in that world is ‘Know your audience’. This is a lesson I have carried into my use of social media. I will never post anything that compromises my personal or professional sense of worth… on any site or platform. However, does the audience that includes colleagues, acquaintances, connections made at conferences, really need to see the new video I just posted because I enjoy isolating parts of quartet style Gospel music? Is it important for them to know, “I got my first gluten-free cupcake at the bakery today & after I tasted it I had half a mind to ask if it was possible to add the gluten back into mine…Lol”? Is it absolutely paramount for the people I met during a conference to know that I fell OUT when my best friend sent me this meme:
Lyrics from Keisha Cole’s Song, Love
Do I feel like explaining why I write statuses in both SAE (Standard American English) & AAVE (African American Vernacular English) dialect, interpreting what I mean by saying ‘I luh dem Smiff chil’ren’, and then explaining that I concentrated in Creative Writing / English because I respect the variety of dialogues that I can command at a moment’s notice on my tongue? Nope! Not on my personal page. It’s there for me to tell my friends & family about my thin apartment walls, random musings, poignant observations, and outfits of the day. It’s for my Grandma to post something on my wall that she thought only I could see (oops)! It’s for my village… the people who empower me to do the work that I do, who may or may not be in that specific line of work.
However, this is not my only “audience”. I don’t only engage with my village. I engage with the professionals and colleagues that I respect – those who mentor me & empower me. Those who want to know what I’m doing with student affairs. Those who want links to my articles and blogs. Those who also appreciate a funny post or two, but probably don’t care too much about what I’m having for dinner that night. There are people I have met and want to keep in touch with from previous positions and work spaces. Then, there are the students that have matriculated… whom I’ve watched develop into professionals themselves. Thus, there needs to be a space for those interactions. The public profile is that space.
There are quite a few reasons why having both a public Facebook account & a private account makes sense, for me:
- I work primarily with college students… being privy to any social media shenanigans on their part is something I simply don’t wish to engage with. Students who have matriculated through their college degree process are always welcome to follow me on Linkedin.com or on my public Facebook profile.
- Attending to audience is something that is important for me
- The work that I do in writing is already public… there is more than enough access to my public thoughts, ideas, and observations
And perhaps the most important reason of all…
- I can be completely authentic in my personal / professional identities in both spaces… There are no rules that say, “If you’re telling ALL your business to EVERY person, REGARDLESS of circumstance… then you are being authentic.” Authenticity means responding truthfully in a given circumstance. Authenticity is not hindered by the divide of a public / private platform. I have nothing to hide. But I am also clear about the boundaries I’d like to have both online and offline.
What about you?! Do you designate some social media spaces as private & some as public? Why or why not?
P.S. While we’re at it… feel free to follow me on Twitter @SAJadePerry1! Image credit: deathtothestockphoto.com, Home Office collection