An ongoing attempt to make unfiltered content appear semi-intelligent...

An ongoing attempt to make unfiltered content appear semi-intelligent...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Skeletal inhabitants of my closet

No, not Halloween – simply coincidental. I must admit, I struggle to find something meaningful to write about constantly. Most things that come to mind are fairly personal in nature. But I am really trying not to turn this into a personal journal. No offense to anyone who uses their blog in that way, it’s just not my style. I imagine this is not a unique frustration, especially for rookie bloggers. I want to communicate the things on my mind without spreading a bunch of emotional vomit. Fair enough?

Aside from bludgeoning myself with Butterfingers over the weekend, I was attempting to complete my resume and write cover letters for summer internships. In the process, I asked for advice from my wife, my parents, teachers and mentors on campus, etc. Everyone had great advice for me, but everyone warned to be careful about what may be on my social media sites, and whether I should have URL's directing them to said sites. I discovered what seems to me to be a conundrum.

I chose to put my Facebook and LinkedIn URL’s on the top of my resume.

I have had the opportunity to hear from a number of guest speakers in the world of public relations. Every one of them has talked about the ways social media has influenced their business and why I should care. It’s all great stuff. And they never fail to mention that they will be looking me up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. if and when I apply for an internship or job with them. Like it or not, we have all created an online portfolio that reflects who we are. So my thought process goes like this; I don’t have anything to hide, so I’m going to plaster those URL’s up on the very top of my resume like a neon billboard. I figure it is better to volunteer them in an attempt to be transparent. Go ahead. Look. Like I said, I’ve got nothing to hide.

Or do I?

Therein lays my paradox. If these portfolios are supposedly representative of who we are, why are we so quick to censor them when we know someone important might be looking? I found myself going back 3 months into my Facebook profile removing borderline comments by myself or others, removing PG-13 pictures from high school and my younger years. I even followed links to comments I had made on others sites to make sure they were kosher. But why?

Certainly no one wants a potential employer to stumble upon a picture of you doing a naked keg stand at a frat party. But my profile didn’t have any such pictures. None of my comments contained curse words (you should know that I don’t think hell counts…go ahead and judge). None of them were comments that I wouldn’t say in front of my mother. So why did I feel the need to delete what seemed like 30% of the things that existed on this portfolio of mine? So there were some PG-13 rated items. I am PG-13. What’s the big deal?

Again, I don’t think this is unique to me. I found myself trying to shape my portfolio the way that I believe the potential employer would want it. And while I think this is smart in a professional sense, doesn’t this entirely defeat the purpose of social media platforms like these?! Wasn’t the whole idea to allow you a place to say what you really wanted without the fear of back lash? Intent or not, it is the way most of us use it. And frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with it (at least for those of us who have a maturity level above that of a cardboard box). Should I even be posting this? Is this too real?

So what now? For those of us looking to excel professionally the outlet is gone. Do I find a different way to let my true colors out? But wait, what’s wrong with my true colors? Aren’t we encouraged to be individuals, be unique, set ourselves apart? I’ve been told to be myself since the days I swung on monkey bars. And so here I am, being myself, and now back peddling to edit my “real” self. So what gives? Where is the problem? Does the professional world expect too much? Or am I expecting too little of myself? I suggest that maybe it is a little of both, but truthfully, I find it to be a bit dizzying to understand. Where is the line? Can someone actually define it? Or should I simply lead two lives: one personal and one professional? One PG-13 rated, and one Disney style G rated.

Really I’m asking. I can’t possibly be the only one.


  1. I think there's a complex answer to that. I do think I have a "personal" self and a "professional self," but like you said, there's nothing about me that I feel like I have to hide or that I'm ashamed of. I think the professional me is a bit more smoothly polished, though, and apt to think a second more before she speaks. She is flawlessly diplomatic and cheerful, and doesn't let on when she's grumpy or talk about her weird in-laws or health problems. Do you know what I mean? I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing those things, but they're not generally things I share with my co-workers unless we've formed real friendships. And I think that's OK. Sometimes it's good to have levels.

  2. These thoughts produce quite the predicament, my good man. I've been to the same lectures you have, seen the same speakers, and followed the same line of thought. Hence my post about the same thing. Click on the article on my page, its freaky what a company can find out about us through our online life.