Yes, there’s still a private life

“Private” by Auntie P on Flickr

I’ve had a few conversations lately with people who have stated, very strongly, that social media has eroded the lines between our private and public lives. They seem to believe that “transparency” means we have an opportunity–an obligation, actually–to resist any distinction between who we are at work and who we are at home. This, of course, extends to how we present ourselves on social networks.

‘There’s no need to treat LinkedIn any different than Facebook,” they claim.

“Bullshit,” I respond.

The fact is, there still is a private life, and it’s very different than our work lives. The line between the two is very thin for some, and thicker for others, but it exists whether or not we want to acknowledge it. It’s reflection of the fact that in our society, different audiences expect different things from us, and while we don’t have to respond accordingly, we usually do. It’s not a matter of being fake, or duplicitous, or inauthentic. It’s just common courtesy to adapt based on the relationship and occasion.

If not, why wear a tie to a wedding or a funeral? Hell, why would you even wear pants?

This type of argument is especially concerning when I hear it from young people, who think we, their older coworkers, are out of touch or uptight when a millennial wants to share everything on Facebook without a filter, then cross-post it to LinkedIn in an effort to be “transparent.” The latter isn’t called being “transparent.” It’s called being irrelevant.

Again, the line between the personal and the professional is thin for some, and thicker for others. But it exists nonetheless. As for me, I’ll continue to draw it in the way that suits me best, sometimes while wearing pants and a tie in public, and sometimes wearing whatever I damn well please in private–which both has nothing to do with business and is, with all due respect (and with a few notable exceptions among the readers of this blog), also none of your business.

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One Response to Yes, there’s still a private life

  1. Nancy McCammon-Hansen says:

    I agree totally. I have business friends/acquaintances that I would never connect with on Facebook. We don’t have that kind of relationship. But it’s good to stay in touch for business purposes, particularly the sharing of information and resources. You, for example, are one of those people for me. Now, as we get to know one another better, we might become Facebook friends too….but right now it seems pointless to me as you probably don’t really care about my politics or my cats, but you do care about the work I do. Know your audience is great advice.

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