by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
A recent special event for a group I volunteer with brought several of my lives together in one public spot. Family members, writing friends, my editor and members of my volunteer family all in one place. It seemed a bit odd, much like the Facebook discussion of whether you have family, friends and business associates all on the same account. Are we separate people online?
This same topic came up two years ago in a travel writers conference I attended. The Search Engine Optimization Guru felt it had come to the point that all our lives had to be one online; there was no more separation of private and professional in the online arena. With a background in both journalism and public relations, this is a bit of a tough nut for me to swallow.Reporters are taught to not reveal or admit personal biases and work to be fair and balanced. Try to keep that invisible wall up between the reporter and the story. But these days, with everyone from future employers to lending banks checking what’s on your social media accounts, are we ever truly offline? What’s a writer/publisher to do?
My best advice comes from my days as a public affairs officer at a medical center; first do no harm. Whether on your posts or pages or with friends or enemies, keep your posts and persona fair, balanced and positive. Assume you are never “off” and the microphone is always “live,” as several president’s have forgotten at times. There is no “off the record” and there really is no “offline.”
Everything we do online can be searched and dragged up at the worst possible time. Whether you are building a new writing platform online or have been around for years, the Internet never forgets. Keep it clean, keep it complimentary and keep your screen clean, so to speak.
They are out there and we are being watched. It comes back to the basics, no matter how many lives and personas we have on this planet, we are one when it comes to our online presence. Act accordingly.