Personal vs. Professional in the Online Arena

Last week, I read this fascinating post on the phenomenon of weaving together multiple online personas to reflect the person controlling them. This week, I’ve been following Amy Gahran’s decision to separate her personal and professional online presences (interesting post on this separation here). I’ve been wrestling with this separation for months now, and am interested to see how it’s coming up in the blogosphere recently.

For me, the issue of multiple online identities started last fall. I had been running an online journal or blog of one sort or another for a couple of years, had a couple of very basic web sites. I’d been a netizen since I was a teenager. I was raised by delightfully overprotective parents who were convinced everyone in the world is out to kidnap and kill me, so it was pretty well drilled into my head that it wasn’t safe to give anybody online my real name because they would hunt me down and kidnap and kill me.

If you ever want a funny story, I’m sure I can find a handful of people who can tell stories just a couple of years old where I was completely adamant about not giving up my real name to anybody.

Anyway, last fall I wanted to start a jewelry design business online. I realized fairly quickly that I was far too lazy to try to start figuring out how a screen name could carry on a legal business, so I decided to create an online presence for my professional life and grouped my hobby blogs with them (since I’d like to see them lead to other professional ventures) and separated everything out from my personal online presence.

I like to joke that I’ve created a great one-way mirror in weaving these two online presences together. My personal life links to my professional life, but my professional life doesn’t link to my personal life. It’s been less stressful than I thought it would be. It’s also had the additional benefit of throwing people I don’t really want in my personal life off my trail.

Several months down the road, I don’t really think too much about this separation I’ve created. If anything, it really doesn’t differ from the normal separations created in life offline, separating personal life from career or school life.


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