On the Separation of Church and State (or, Facebook vs. LinkedIn)

One thing I’m concerned about in my job search, especially as I increase my presence online, is keeping my personal and professional lives separate.   I do have the fortune of having gotten through my misspent youth before the invention of Facebook, and frankly, I never spent much time mooning people in public while in an intoxicated state anyway.

Still, I’m aware that anyone who reads my job search blog or sees my LinkedIn profile might be able to locate me on Facebook or find other things I’ve posted in a personal capacity.  It seems that digital platforms everywhere are making it more difficult to maintain privacy and separation.

This is not just a concern about keeping personal and professional separate.   If I decide to waste time playing Candy Crush Saga on Facebook, I don’t need all of my neighbors to know that.   When I’m preparing to post a snarky restaurant review on Yelp, or a glowing review of a great boutique hotel on Tripadvisor, I don’t want to sign in with my Facebook ID, thank you very much.

Maybe I’m a curmudgeon, but if I want you to know where I’m having dinner, I’ll tell you.  I don’t feel the need to alert you to my every move on Foursquare.   I’m still debating whether or not I need a Gravatar.

On the professional front, I’m not wild about linking to my kid’s teacher on LinkedIn so she can see my job search-related messages.    Being able to search for LinkedIn contacts in my gmail account is highly useful, but I don’t like that checking all of the listed contacts is the default response.  I daresay I’m probably not the only person who has sent an invitation to someone they didn’t mean to. Our babysitter from last summer is probably still wondering why I want to connect with her professional network.

Mind you, I’m not a paranoid person who wants to live without a digital identity at all and thinks the FBI is spying on our every move.   I’m sometimes a little creeped out by google ads based on recent web searches or even the content of my gmail account, but I think I can live with that.  I figure the FBI mostly has better things to do than note that I recently ordered Legos on Amazon.

Still, it seems to be a sign of the times that we need to be careful of what we do online, whether in a professional or personal capacity.  After all, my mother is on Facebook, and yours probably is, too.  I’m hopeful that there will be an easier way to keep track of this in the future, as it seems to be rapidly evolving space.  In the meantime, I’m already exhausted by the prospect of all of the lectures I am going to have to give my children regarding what they post on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr or whatever the platform-du-jour might be in the future.

Finally, please note, I have a very common name, so if you encounter some non-employer friendly behavior, it is probably not me.  Really, I’m quite boring.  Plus, if an employer finds the real me but is concerned that I like Korean food or hiking in New England, they are probably not the organization for me, anyhow.

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