Publicly Personal

By Julie, Sick of Snow in Somerville

facebookI am in a social media craze this month. Yesterday we had a great Netiquette conversation here on the blog. I won’t even tell you how we got the idea for that post. Best practices indeed–what a great list the post generated. Last week I wrote a blog post about “My 80/20 Rule” on Live to Write/Write to Live. The short version–80% of your social media should be about other people. Here on the Wicked Cozys, we live by that rule. Pay it forward for each other. It is a lot more fun.

pinterest2Today I thought I’d touch base about your public personal life. Being on social media makes you a public figure to a certain extent. Depending on what platform you use, you are “out there”. Even if you lock down your Facebook page, or limit your Twitter profile, it doesn’t limit your potential exposure. Know that–anything you “say” on line can be made public at some point.

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But, in my opinion, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a cyber profile. (Perhaps I will talk about different social media platforms in future posts, would that be interesting?) But I am going to suggest that you manage your public personal life from the beginning. That doesn’t mean don’t have a personality on line. Just manage it.

Here are some general rules of thumb I try to follow:

  • Never trust privacy settings. Just assume your posts, tweets, pins, and everything else will be visible to the world. Facebook, as an example. changes privacy settings all the time.
  • Be a whole person. Nobody is “just a” anything. We read, we eat, we listen to music, we visit places, we laugh. You may be developing one persona, that of a writer. But let people know more about you. Do you love asparagus? Are you a Springsteen fan? Who do you enjoy reading? What is your favorite dessert? Do you like baseball? But talking abut the other parts of your life, you are doing two things. First, you are showing your well roundedness as a human being. And second, you are engaging with people outside your immediate circle, which could bring in other people. My love of Project Runway, for example, got me into a Twitter conversation with a New York theater blogger. Worlds collide, and online friendships emerge.
  • Manage what you share. My twitter followers know that I: love theater, am an arts advocate, teach, read mysteries, write mysteries, adore the Red Sox. They don’t know if I am single, have children, what my religious views are, or my politics. My Facebook friends know that I am an aunt, but they don’t see pictures of my nieces and nephews. Or know their names, for that matter. I don’t post when I am going out of town. And yet people in my social media world have a sense of knowing me.
  • Have fun. If you hate Facebook, don’t use it. Same with Twitter, or Pinterest, or LinkedIn. But try them first. You may surprise yourself.

How about you, dear readers? Any thoughts on navigating this wild wild west of social media?