Personal vs. Professional

In the world of social media, the line gets gray…

At the Klingenstein Summer Institute, they asked us to write down “questions we are living.” I love the idea of living a question because conceptualizing a question this way allows space to explore it through everyday experiences and think about it without seeking one answer. For example, at the time, I wrote:

  • What is good enough?
  • Who inspires me? Do I inspire my students?
  • How can I make the greatest impact? Is it in schools? Is it in policy? Education law? Direct leadership?

A question that I am living right now is,

Where is the line between personal and professional?”

This is called “Single Identity Transparency,” where our online presence is the same as our offline self. There are legitimate reasons for being who you are and their are legitimate reasons for being anonymous. (Changing your name to be on Facebook underage is NOT one of them…)

Here are a couple (12) infographics about the internet and identity.

Usernames & accounts. I tweet with the handle @pdxkali. When I created this username, I didn’t think too hard about whether this would be a personal or professional account. I have kept it because too much content is associated with this account now that I wouldn’t want to lose, but I wish now that I was @julierobison because it is a professional account. I don’t do a whole lot of personal tweeting, though I occasionally share something about being a new mom.

In contrast, a few people that I follow on twitter for their educational comments put personal content like pictures from vacation or check-ins at events that I don’t really care about. Their twitter feed is primarily personal. (I should probably unfollow them and just subscribe to their blogs…)

A couple of my colleagues decided to make two usernames, one for personal and one for professional, but I was mentioning the wrong one in my tweets or they wouldn’t be paying attention to both feeds.

I have always kept separate work and personal email addresses, because if I leave a job, I don’t want any accounts tied to an email address I no longer have access to.

When I started blogging, I initially created the and was blogging as the middle school tech coordinator. When I started to write more personal posts, like this one, I wanted it associated with me, not with my position.

Devices. We have been piloting iPad minis right now, and a colleague who already owns one, asked if he could borrow one for school use. Realistically, though, carrying around another device is just going to confuse things and wouldn’t he rather just have everything in one place? iOS devices are increasingly designed to be personal and group management of them is difficult. So should schools buy iOS devices for employees and have them use their personal accounts?

I carry around my iPhone all day at work. Sometimes I answer personal text messages, but the tech department often goes between email, text, or calls to reach each other. It’s beneficial to the school for me to use this device for my job, but I pay for it. On trips, we often use our phones for finding directions or emailing parents or taking pictures.

Boarding schools. As a dorm parent, I live where I work. I can see into classrooms out my front door. Kids see me on the weekends after a workout or at dinner feeding my 7 month old mashed peas. Clearly, I have accepted a blurrier line than most!

Final thoughts:

  • I feel comfortable with my current blend of professional and personal, though sometimes if feels like the workday never ends. (And at boarding schools, you are never really off duty until vacation!) I love my job and spend a lot of time outside of M-F 8-4pm thinking about education and teaching anyway.
  • People who are not connected to me via social media (professionally or personally) don’t know me as well.
  • Perhaps blending personal and professional allows us to see each other as more human? Maybe in workplaces where this happens there is greater social cohesion?
  • This whole idea of separate identities is very industrial-age with the idea that you go to a specific place for a specific length of time to do work.

Facebook Free February

Yesterday I read this blog post by Hands Free Mama called “How to miss a childhood.” The balance of being a mom and technophile is particularly relevant to my life right now. While much of what she describes I have already consciously decided against, there were still things to reflect on.

  1. My phone is often in my back pocket, and if it’s not, the number one request to my spouse is “Would you get me my phone?” I pretty much do 5 things: Facebook, texting, email, Words with Friends or Scrabble, and taking pictures/videos. If my son is awake and playing, I don’t use it, unless I need to see my calendars or add a reminder. But it is still always there like a safety blanket.
  2. I admit that I check my phone at stoplights. Usually it’s scrolling through Facebook, sometimes it’s texting about daycare pick up with my husband, but it’s almost always of no consequence. I need to get out of the habit now before the carseat is facing forward and he’s watching me do it.
  3. We sit down to meals, whether at home or in the dining hall, and my phone is on silent. I’m careful about not having that be an interruption. Same with any family gatherings. There was one moment over winter break where the tv was on and 3 out of 4 adults were on a device. Not me.

This month I’m going to change a couple things:

  1. No Facebook – app will be deleted on my phone & iPad and I will practice self-restraint on the computer.
  2. iPhone dock on the shelf – when I come in, it’ll be out of my pocket and set down. The ringer will be on, in case someone calls, just like a land line. No carrying it around and leaving it everywhere. I will use a travel alarm as my alarm clock, so it won’t even be in the bedroom with me.
  3. Only important use in the car when I’m parked only – not every stoplight, not just to scroll emails. If it’s a long drive and I have time to call my Dad, that’s okay.

There is an additional goal with all of this that may seem contradictory. During this month, I want to tweet more and explore other apps for creativity. This is part professional and part personal. I find that most of my iPad or iPhone use is consumption, and I want to expand and enrich my online portfolio.

For the record, I’m not a Facebook addict. I don’t think giving up Facebook is going to change my life and make me a better person. I feel that I have developed a healthy relationship with my technology, knowing when to turn on or turn off, not losing hours to the internet. I’m hoping that turning off Facebook frees me to explore other opportunities with my technology and pushes me to learn, adapt, and change.

Here we go.