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Friday, December 5, 2014

Privacy, Shmivacy

My childhood was a Seinfeld script. 
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong."
"Something's wrong, I can tell."
"No, nothing."
"You're being evasive. She's being evasive."
"Really, I'm fine."
"Look at her, she's like a ghost. Did somebody at school say something to you?"
"Look, I don't want to talk about it."
"A-ha! So something did happen."
"Please, just let me be. I want to go to sleep."
"It's not even six o'clock yet. Nobody's tired at five thirty."
"Well I'm gonna break the record."
* * * 
No boundaries. ZERO BOUNDARIES.
Tough growing up with. Helps on social media.
While it is true that normal people keep their personal lives private, they're not the ones doing digital engagement. Which now includes...everybody who's a celebrity, an influencer or an opinion leader, high profile types and those who aspire to be.
All of the above are abnormal people who hang out too much on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and whose personality is indistinguishable from their persona. That's right, their personal brand.
Guess what? The limbo bar has dropped again. 
In the future you will have very little wiggle room between the person you are at home, and the person you are in public.
And that includes LinkedIn.
Recently I've read several posts on LI that crossed the line from professional to personal. They didn't feel inappropriate at all. Rather, like the execution of a good brand strategy, they told me what the writer's values were - something I'd need to know before doing business with them.
It is scary to be yourself online. There's a lot that people can object to, right? But in the end I think it's better to just put it all out there. I'll take it a step further: I don't trust people who juggle so many masks you can't tell when they're being real at all. 
You want to preserve your privacy. Keep it; I have no desire to be intrusive. But I submit to you that your colleagues will not trust you fully unless they know something of your views and values.
Let me go a step further, because further is where you need to be if you're planning to be a leader. Get ready to give that elevator speech:
What is your life story?
You have to have something to say there. I will say flat out that I am. Jewish & a proud supporter of Israel's right to exist in peace and security as the Jewish national homeland: a Zionist. Wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. Libertarian, on most things but not all. New Yorker. Foodie and food extremist at times: once ate only almonds for 4 months, cholesterol dropped by half.
That's my smorgasbord of identity. Have you thought about the kinds of things that you will reveal? When and to whom? 
I am not suggesting there is any one right way to do things. In fact I like it a lot when people break the so-called "rules." Whether through writing, art, dance, music or some other way, I am curious at how people push the boundaries, craft their message to break through the noise and find ways to succeed at getting people's attention the right way where others fail. I wonder at who can get away with saying certain things in certain ways, while others can't.
Just keep in mind that your zone of privacy is growing ever more limited.  You can expect that the relatively near future will include things like this:
  • Sites where you are rated by colleagues, for good or bad. (Like an Amazon-type rating system.)
  • Sites where former girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives talk openly about what it was like to be in a relationship with you.
  • Sites that graph your life's connections fairly openly, from childhood on. So that anyone can look you up, and see not only where you live, but also who your associates are. 
It's a scary future, right? You won't be able to hide off the grid, not really. Your comments will further be scrutinized against known data, or at least the kind of data the computer knows.
Sadly for some, gladly for others and ecstatically for the exhibitionists among us, your professional self and your personal self will intersect very closely at some point.
It's better if you reach it fully prepared. 
Photo credit: Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr