Middle School Angst Has No Place in A Professional World

I was just goofing around on the Facebooks and I posted this picture I took of a piece of exercise equipment that I never bought. Because, you know, New Years.

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A FB friend almost immediately posted a picture of Shake Weight and I snarfed Pinot Noir all over my keyboard.

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(Now is not the time to mention that I own a Shake Weight, and when I remember where it is, use it unironically)

I was thinking about that FB friend, and about a time that he posted on his page that he was looking for a person to do SEO copywriting, or some such thing that was in my wheelhouse. I posted an “ahem” and he posted something akin to “I said someone GOOD to do it.” It was in jest, and funny, because, let’s face it, we’re all hacks, but I sent him a personal message imploring him to delete his post.

The gist of it was something like “I’m actually trying to make a living at this and even though I know you have have a sweet nature and are a good guy, any bad PR is bad PR and I need you to go ahead and delete that.” It might have had more of a metallic panicked edge to it. I don’t remember and I’m too lazy to go back and find the message. He did, and was very nice about it, and life went on.

When he posted the hilarious Shake Weight picture in a rapid fire response to my “I saw it at BJ’s Wholesale Club and Took a Picture Of It But Didn’t Buy It’ cover photo I thought about that, and how I was kind of embarrassed that I made such a big deal.

And the whole point of this post was to connect that story, the one I just told, to a middle school dance where Josh O’Donnell, one of the cutest boys in school, came up to me while the DJ played “Paradise City” by Guns N Roses and I was all happy for a second until he said “Can you take me down to Paradise City? Oh, I’m sorry, they said that’s where the girls are PRETTY” and I cried and called my mom to come get me. I was going to sort of say that my reaction to that FB conversation was residual “Paradise City” trauma and I should sort of check my digital marketer/copywriter privilege and get over myself.

But now that I write it all down, I wonder if it’s wasn’t smart of me to ask him to take that post down inferring that I was not a “GOOD” SEO copywriter person. In today’s “IT IS ALL ON THE INTERNET. SERIOUSLY. JUST GOOGLE IT” world, you can’t be too careful, can you?

As a once freelance writer who is now a NOW freelance writer, business partner, professor, tutor, marketing consultant and amateur professional creepy doll photographer (that last one is an iffy), how important is every little crumb of information on the internet?

Or, how important is it to be able to take a joke?

Boyfriend has a nephew who is 25-30 ish. He’s a “Digital Native” and he’s absolutely careful about what is posted about him on social media. You may not tag him in pictures. You may not post on his page without approval. In fact, if he is at a function and he is photographed without his permission, he requests that the photographer delete his picture. He sees the internet as a place that you present yourself the way you would present yourself professionally.

I have a FB friend from high school who posts many personal details of her life on the internet. Nothing is secret, nothing is withheld. If you want to know how she is, just check her posts, because there has likely been something deeply personal posted within the last 5 hours.

Personally, I overshared in the past (see here) and it bit me in the professional buttocks. Even after that, I overshared gooey posts about things that didn’t last as long as my (admittedly long) college career. Lately, I do silly, frivolous things, make a few insightful (yet benign) observations, and keep to myself.

How much sharing is OK in today’s digital age, and how much damage can the “wrong” social media post or conversation do to you in the long run? I invite comments (so long as they are relevant, and are not a long list of product urls…)

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to start a conversation. With you, my three readers. You have thoughts? Let’s talk.

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