Monday, February 4, 2013

Separating your personal from professional online lives

I read an article today about an interesting topic, the writer was articulate and knowledgeable about online education. I decided this is someone worth following on Twitter (a decision I don't make lightly as you are about to see). As soon as Twitter pulled up her info I clicked Follow, before the feed even finished loading. Twitter shows you the most current postings by someone when you pull up their profile but my system was slow in loading the stream.

As I scrolled down I quickly saw this was not someone I wanted showing up in my professional Twitter stream. The messages went something like this:

  • Article about online learning and MOOC's at ...
  • Oh, honey I miss you so much, hurry back.
  • So sad you are leaving on your trip.
  • Article about math education and parent involvement at ...
  • Kissy, kissy what a nice morning we had, and we only fight about the little things.
All the personal messages to this person's significant other were mixed in with professional messages. The professional tweets were things I really might have found interesting but the ratio of personal to professional was much too high. In fact it was more personal than professional from what I could see, maybe 2:1 personal kissy, kissy messages.

My Twitter feed is my professional face, my brand, my forum to the eLearning and education worlds. Colleagues and students can count on mostly professional tweets with the occasional personal commentary. The ratio of my personal to professional messages is about 1:100. I think my followers can handle scrolling past the very occasional sports comment or shared recipe.

I have separate Facebook accounts for personal and professional uses as well, not so much because what I share on the personal side needs to be secret. I just don't think my professional colleagues care about my grandchildrens' antics. Those colleagues who are also friends of mine have been invited to both accounts. Students and most colleagues are only invited to the professional account. I also have separate blogs. There is this blog for professional writing (which needs to happen more often) and a personal blog for recipes, hobbies, and sharing personal angst.

What it really comes down to is respect for other peoples' time. My students and general colleagues don't have time to scroll through all my personal thoughts and shared images to find the gems about eLearning. I respect their time, and I respect my time enough to divest myself of folks on Twitter who don't understand the need to separate personal from professional streams. Needless to say, I unfollowed the person within minutes of following her.

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