One Size Does Not Fit All

I have taken a hiatus from social media in the past but when I sat down and seriously considered deleting my Twitter and Google+ profiles earlier this year I found I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger and kill that part of me.Colin Walker

I couldn’t delete mine either. I wanted to delete Facebook and Google+. I really did. I suspended my Facebook account for one week and stopped posting to Google+ for a while. Only one person noticed. It was then that I could have silently deleted my account and moved on. But I chose to reduce the amount of time I spent on social media. Facebook is the only way I can share my life with my extended family.

So I made some changes. I spend more time writing and sharing on my blog. I mostly use Twitter as a broadcast channel for blog post and interesting articles. On Google+ I focus on using the communities. I limit my Facebook exposure to just the weekend.

Why do we rush to new services and networks just to reserve our names? Do we need them all or need to share the same information across such a wide spectrum?

For me, it’s the very valid concern that someone will create an account under my name, image etc. and start posting as me. Reputation damage is hard to defend. Once the damage is done to online reputation, it can be challenging to recover. Services exists to help with this but I prefer doing it myself.

In life we are many things to many people depending upon the circumstances in which we encounter them but, by reinforcing a consistent identity across multiple services (or even within different spheres of the same service) we are creating one homogeneous instance of ourselves.

Interestingly I am a different person on Facebook than I am on Google+. My Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram social graph are wildly different. On Facebook I am a husband, father, friend, family member, and work colleague. Those are the only people I chose to connect with on Facebook. On Google+ and Twitter, I am publicly the geek. I have stopped sharing geeky internet articles on Facebook. It seems very few of my contacts care. But on Google+ and Twitter - more so Google+ -- I can argue and discuss with strangers. The photos I share on Instagram rarely make it to the other social networks. I am always careful to be professional on LinkedIn and share very rarely and the sharing is always in topic with my professional identity.

I maybe one person but I share different aspects of me depending on the social network. I have stopped cross posting.

Is this addiction to identity creating problems we just don’t have solutions to other than to disconnect? When everything is linked and traceable there is nowhere to hide except offline, nowhere that we can forget ourselves or who we are supposed to be.

One can decide to disconnect entirely or choose what you want to share, with whom, and how. I think the personal branding thing started as a way to show employers/clients that we are more then just what they hired us for. I am not just an information security analyst, I also an avid photographer, web developer public speaker, writer etc. In fact, it’s the way we write our 140 character social media profiles. It was meant as a way to differentiate oneself from the other candidates, other profiles and show value. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the idea?

Author: Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.