I actually have two twitter accounts—a personal one that I use most often and have been using since May of 2010 (@prestontaylorrr) and then one that I created last year for professional use (@ptstoneofficial). I had originally chosen to have the personal account private so my public account would be the premiere place any potential employers could find information about what I say online, but I have since made both public when I found out no matter what the accounts are the first google results when you search my name. I am and have been an avid tweeter since my little egg hatched in 2010, but I could not gain access to my personal archive in time for this post, so I’m analyzing my professional twitter. Too, I would like to talk a little more about why I like to have both of my twitters and the importance, for me at least, of articulating these different ‘digital selves.’
My “official” twitter page, so named because of the handle @ptstoneofficial, is fairly new. The most active month was the first month (August 2014). During that month is when I was concluding my time as a social media ambassador and communications intern at Clemson Road Creative, LLC (a business consulting firm based out of Blythewood, SC). That month I had over 200 tweets and retweets. However, since then each month has been below the 100 mark. Of course, this is because I rarely use my professional twitter and when I do I am very cautious about the nature of my activity.
Most revealing about this though is despite the decrease in tweets-per-month (tpm) from August to now, the nature of the tweets have gotten less vague or general and much more specifically about issues like school (I was/am a Welcome Leader and tweet about events for that and am the President of the Clemson Writers’ Guild so I tweet about that, etc.), politics (Salon.com is one of my favorite sources and I almost always retweet their stories if I have read them; and now that Hillary is running for President I will be pushing that; I also did a lot of tweeting during Furguson and related events esp. the ones at Clemson concerning #BanYikYak and #TillMain), and other promotional affairs (like promoting the Chronicle launch after my poem was selected to be published and I was set to read; tweeting at Mark Z. Danielewski about #TheFamiliar).
Now, of course the more politically charged or specifically issued my tweets get, I am told that I shouldn’t be saying these things and that politics stays out of the professional world, etc. So, I would like to now analyze the way we let social media affect us. The reason I have two twitters even though they are both now obviously associated with me personally and there is no way to really separate me from the digital identity that is @prestontaylorrr or @ptstoneofficial is because I very much believe in the transparency of my digital identity.
Nothing that I share is private, I know that. Everyone knows that. As Raley points out: “Perfect anonymity is impossible” (p137). So, no matter what I do to stop companies from thinking less of me because I have a personal twitter that uses profanity, has drunk tweets, and other normally-considered “obscene” things in them, I can’t. I love social media. I love how I can connect with someone across the world and hear someone else’s story and tell them mine in just seconds. I won’t give that up to “monitor” myself for the business world and here’s why: I have another twitter, a more professional twitter, that I do consciously monitor and decide how I word things and who I retweet and who I don’t. That is the professional me.
This may sound a little weird, but it’s not all a foreign concept to us. We all have things we do in our personal lives that we don’t do when we’re on the job. So, I’m only suggesting the same should apply to social media. In the same way that Raley says we shouldn’t be focusing on un-plugging or trying to end dataveillance altogether but on educating ourselves on how it works and THEN making decisions, I say we should be focused on educating ourselves on the ways social media can work. The same way we have two “selves” — a personal and professional — in reality, the same can apply to social media. This is the same way old middle school or high school email addresses are things we have since separated from the ones we use in college or professionally.
Now, I’ve certainly still gotten a lot of crap about having two different twitters from both my potential employers and my friends. The potential employers suggest I delete the personal twitter altogether and do my best not to digitally record my “mishap” behavior. I even had one employer meet me a little half way and say yes, she knows I’m a different person outside of the workplace, but I am still a reflection of the company and regardless of whether people should judge my professional potential by my personal behavior they could (and most likely will). My friends of course think my professional twitter is a joke and lame because I don’t tweet “cool” or funny things like I do on my personal twitter. But to both, I say: I don’t care. I have a professional career and a personal career. So, I have a professional twitter and a personal twitter.
For my digital media source, I’m using an image from a Chive post about doppelgängers dressing up like the famous paintings they look like: