Twitter, LinkedIn join forces, blurring the lines between work and play

Developing an online persona gets trickier as social networking sites mingle

This week Twitter and LinkedIn announced they had entered into a partnership, that now they work together like “peanut butter and chocolate.” Now you can link in from your Twitter account and tweet from your LinkedIn page.

For almost a year I’ve been tweeting my Facebook updates from Twitter, but now I can tweet to my LinkedIn site as well. Until now, I thought LinkedIn was for business, while Facebook was a bit more casual, with connections to friends and family as well as work. I’m still not sure what Twitter is for.

Now the lines and distinctions between career and more social-oriented networking sites are growing blurrier. Some of my work colleagues who are also my Facebook friends will post their status as, “Going over to the White House to meet with the CIO Council today,” while I post things like, “Really excited about Shark Week.” I don’t know anymore who I’m supposed to be online.

The co-founders of Twitter and LinkedIn, Biz Stone and Reid Hoffman, discuss some of this on this video, saying it’s up to individuals to decide on what sort of online persona they want to develop and how this becomes part of their resume.

All the veils I use to compartmentalize my life online are lifting. Now work, family, childhood, school days and hobbies are all commingling into this online stew of who I am. All my different roles have converged on the Internet: employee, teacher, friend, co-worker, sister, aunt, daughter, writer, karaoke singer, confidante, alumna. All converge, all mingle, for all my “friends” to see on the Internet.

Now I can network online with all my work colleagues, college roommates, ex-boyfriends, everybody I’ve ever talked to or gotten an e-mail message or phone call from. People I knew in fifth grade. People I never particularly wanted to talk to ever again, but who for some strange reason want to “friend” me. People I’m delighted to talk to again. People I met at a baby shower. People I knew from my church folk choir in high school. They are all here, demanding to link in to me, Facebook with me, tweet at me, poke me, share kitten photos and videos of the class field trip to the zoo.

But I don’t want to be a digital hermit, either, plugged into an iPod and nothing else. I have to swim in this social networking river or else I’ll miss out, right? But the question I ask myself is: Am I swimming toward something worthwhile or is most of this just splashing around in a backyard pool?

As I work on developing my online persona, I’m remembering something my mother told me when I was little.

“Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times,” she said.

Mom didn’t say it, but I think her wise advice applies to e-mail messages, tweets, blogs, and everything else on the Internet. Mom’s rule might present more of a problem to diarists and those who work with top secret government documents, but for most of us, I think she was right.

Of course, like all of us, I’d rather the front page of the New York Times one day said something like, “Trudy Walsh is really excited about winning Pulitzer,” instead of “Trudy Walsh is really excited about Shark Week.”

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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