Internet Schizophrenia

Facebook identitiesI’ve been having a debate for a while about personal vs professional internet presence. The question has been whether to combine my professional internet self with my personal or to create a two separate “worlds” if you will.

Let’s explain:

  • Facebook: Do I want someone I meet at a networking event to be friends with me on Facebook? If I accept them there is a chance they will go through my old pictures and find pictures of me on my 21st birthday with my tongue sticking out. So do I ignore their friend request? Or the other option is to put every professional connection I make as friends with Limited Profile access. What about random internet strangers? Do I really want Jane Doe in Idaho to see pictures of my family Christmas? So this leaves me with a 3rd option – create a second Facebook account.
    I do have 2 internet identities –

    a) 26 year old blogger, random pink loving girl who likes to read about Gen Y

    b) Freelance Graphic Designer & Internet Marketer

  • Twitter: This is the arena that I have really debated this identity crisis. For the most part I post about random things in my day like “I just ate the most ridiculous/random lunch – fried pickles, popcorn shrimp, & mac/cheese“. Now how professional does that sound? Hey I post about macaroni & cupcakes randomly do you want me to design your company website? Don’t get me wrong I am great at what I do but I certainly have a professional, business consultant side and a random macaroni loving side and I generally don’t mesh those two worlds. The internet however is all one big web meshed together.So what I have been doing is using twitter just for fun, and a way to promote the blog, and allowing “work” contacts limited access on facebook. But as of tonight I’ve decided that internet schizophrenia might be the better option for me. I created a twitter account for my business and a facebook account that I will upload portfolio pieces and samples of my work. I will use both of these as venues to post marketing tips and current projects and all things work related. Since LinkedIn has always been in the professional realm it will stay as is, and I guess I will get over the paranoia that it’s odd that a stranger wants to know where I worked 2 years ago.

    Does anyone else run into the internet split personality issue or is it just me?

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  1. Jessica says:

    Ugh, I like you struggle with this. I have a PR blog, and use my Twitter for PR purposes, but recently created a personal blog, and also Twitter about random things.

    I always have conflicts today, I found out that a really cool professor I like is on Twitter and I was about to follow her, but then realized…do I really want her reading my tweets about flirting with some guy through text messages?

    It’s so difficult!

  2. Kaci says:

    Ugh. I struggle with this all. the. time. I finally decided that I am who I am – that is, a professional AND a human being – and that’s that. I don’t blog anonymously and I’m all over the facebook and twitter and linkedin and myspace… It’s just who I am. I think each person just has to find their own balance.

  3. tyfn says:

    It is actually against the terms of service to have more than one account on Facebook. You can have a Facebook page and a Facebook personal account but you are not allowed to have a personal account and a professional account. Just like you can’t have a fake name or have an account that isn’t your full first and last name.

    Now there are over 100 million accounts so there is probably a small likelihood they would notice, but if you get caught (They will email you from you would have to close one of your accounts.

    I only use Facebook for close friends and my close Social media friends. I don’t add random people so I treat it as a personal space. You can also place professional contacts strangers on limited profile so they don’t have access to anything beyond being able to message you so they can’t see photos, write on your wall, or have access to notes you write. I have alot of people that are professional acquaintances that I don’t want to see my personal life that I have on limited profile. You could also use Facebook for your personal contacts and LinkedIn for professional contacts.

  4. I’m with Kaci for the most part on this – for now, I’m a package deal. I think it is more simple to keep up with one “identity” than to generate two. All I really do is censor myself (from time to time) on Twitter and whatever other sites, from knocking other people (especially people like bosses, professors, etc) or posting stuff about how I’m getting wildly drunk and eating fried pickles (just an example, I swear! I’ve never eaten fried pickles).

    I think that may be a personality thing, but I find for the most part that anything I do or say online goes through my “Do I want this comment to stay around for Googlebot”-filter and that’s about it. [Interesting, Google as moral compass or conscience…]

  5. I definitely struggle with this. I have a lot of business colleagues trying to friend me on Facebook, which I set up as a personal thing. Anyone with my company sees a limited profile, but others that I interact with on a professional basis, well, they just see the whole thing b/c I have no way of limiting their access as a group. Fortunately, I’m not to worried about the opinion they may draw from my profile. On Twitter, I maintain an anonymous identity, so only people who know me through my blog or close friends are able to find me. I like it better that way.

  6. rachel says:

    I have to say i agree with Kaci. For me it’s mainly a time issue. It is not efficient for me to keep up with all the accounts I already have so making even more just doesn’t seem worth it. Generally I’m not putting things out there that I”m embarrassed of or want to hide from anyone. If I did want to hide it, it shouldn’t be on the internet. I think we all feel the need to publicize everything and some stuff just doesn’t belong and it’s unhealthy to feel we have to put it all out there!

    That’s just my personal thought though.

  7. Ginger says:

    For me, it’s not so much a concern about what my professional contact might find, or having something to hide. I just wonder–there are professional things I’d like to talk about and personal things I’d like to talk about…does it make more sense to not subject the two groups to the full mix? Do my blogging friends care about my thoughts on marketing in this retail environment? Do my marketing contacts care about my gift-giving angst?

  8. Tanja says:

    yeah, I think we all think about this because we want our professional and personal lives to stay separate, that’s why we don’t party with our bosses Friday night either.
    PS Who’s that lovely girl standing next to you, haha!:o)

  9. Ari Herzog says:

    If you’re not who you are, who are you?

  10. TOPolk says:

    I’m a fan of the limited profile move when it comes to professional contacts. There are some things I don’t want making their way back to the workplace.

  11. I was struggling with this too….and then I decided that MySpace and Facebook were for friends, and LINKEDIN was for work. Problem solved!

  12. Adam Gainer says:


    I wrote a post about this not too long ago. I think with the modern advancement of technology and us putting ourselves out on the web we just have to be careful about what we put.

    I have many friends off line that I hsare my private things on facebook with. I use a lot of privacy protection, you have to realize though that anywhere you work for they are going to google you and facebook you. I think a delicate balance between the two is what is called for, while social media allows the proliferation of information it’s up to us to control this information.

    Personally I feel like people should know me and my work since the two are in similar styles. I don’t mind people I consider “professional” contacts facebooking me and have found it’s been beneficial in most cases.

    Ultimately it’s all about controlling what you want people to know about you.

  13. Cassandra says:

    My rule of thumb is just to not post anything online I would be embarrassed to have anyone know or see. Pictures of me making weird faces or having a few drinks? No problem. Everyone does it. If someone’s going to judge me based on that kind of thing, I probably don’t want to work for them anyway because I’m a bit of a goof.

    If I have some extremely personal to talk about, I call or IM a friend to talk about it one-on-one. It helps me keep my truly personal self offline and it also encourages me to maintain relationships.

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