Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, this blog and online communities. Every single one of these accounts display a different part of me, each show a slightly different person – not because I am dishonest but because of the different nature of these apps or webpages. They all have one thing in common: They are too personal for my clients to see.
I am a social worker. I put a lot of myself into relationships with my clients because that’s how it works, I can’t be too distant or I’ll never be successful. I choose what to share with them and what not to share though. What if they found my social media? It’s a thought that honestly scares me, so inspired by the German blogger Clara from wundersachen, I wanted to explore it in a blog post. This is less about the dangers of Social Media even though I am well aware of those, especially for young people, but at this point in my life, it is more about a balance between sharing as much as I want to and having to think about the impact it has on my job.
Some people can combine their normal work life and their blog – I can’t. I can’t talk about my job on here because of my professional discretion. On the other hand, I could never talk about my blog at work – with colleagues, sure, but not with clients. My blog posts are completely personal, as are the rest of my social networks. Why am I having trouble deciding to lock them then, so that they are private and only my friends have access?
The thing is, while I don’t particularly care about follower numbers, I love to get feedback from strangers, have people comment on how beautiful my Instagram photos are and interesting insights on their thoughts regarding my blog posts. Aren’t all bloggers a tiny bit narcisstic in that way? It’s comforting to vent on Twitter about things going on in my life and so often I have felt better when someone just said ‘that’s okay, I’ve been feeling the same thing!’ or ‘why don’t you try xy, it’s helped me!’. Even just a ‘feel hugged!’ can make all the difference in my day.
There’s nothing on my accounts that is so personal in a way that it could hurt me. No nude pictures, at least. Seriously, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if a client found out, there’s nothing that they could use against me. It would hurt my professional standing though. I deliberately create a relationship with the exact amount of distance and closeness that I deem necessary. Me telling them that I have been to Canada before is one thing. Them seeing a picture of myself with my friends in front of Lake Louise is a different story. It would be uncomfortable for me and in a way for them, too.
I would never befriend someone client-related on Facebook, of course, and I might have to private my Twitter. Imagine a client reading about what I think of Bill Kaulitz’ new haircut – I really don’t want to have a conversation about how I am totally an adult and totally capable of telling them how to deal with their children when they have that to throw in my face.
I will have to adjust my way of using social media, as hard as it is. My Mum is following me on Instagram, so I’m careful there anway – jk, my Mum is the best. I want to keep my Instagram public though and so I will go through my feed before I start my new job, just to be safe. I will have to censor myself in the future by reconsidering before I post a picture. I will private my Twitter because in the end, most replies I get are from friends or long-time followers anyway – and that’s enough! This blog is the one thing I’m on the fence about. I am going to keep it, definitely, but I am not sure how to protect myself.
A good method of checking how easily you can be found is using the incognito mode of your browser (so that Google can’t tailor the results for you and you’ll get an unbiased picture of what someone can actually find about you) and just typing your name into Google. When I google myself, a whole bunch of articles about my past voluntary engagement in church appear, a few pictures, a few twitter accounts that belong to someone else, and a bit of information about where I went to school. Nothing about my actual accounts though, which is reassuring.
I grew up with the internet, there’s a ton of stuff on there that I will never be able to get rid of – and that nobody will ever find, to be honest. That’s our generation though, isn’t it? All of us are living with that and all of us are figuring out a way for ourselves to deal with it. Some strangers on the internet became my best friends, I don’t want to deprive myself of the chance to get to know these great people. Got any advice? Thoughts? Leave a comment, I appreciate all insights since as you can see in this blog post, I am not decided on the topic.
To end this on a positive note, ever listened to the Stand Up To Cancer charity single “The Internet Is Here” by Dan and Phil (daninsnotonfire and amazingphil on Youtube)? I promise you, if you grew up on the internet, you will relate.