Should Work-Life Balance Extend To Your Digital Footprint?

July 25, 2013

facebook-party-boo_2418334bThe sun was peeking over the horizon as I cruised to the airport and turned the dial to NPR. A notorious politician and his after-hours activities were the hot topic of conversation.

It wasn’t the pundit or the reporting that grabbed my attention –- it was the opinion of an interviewee adamantly declaring that people should not be judged based on decisions in their private lives because they are just that, private.

Let’s think about that idea outside of the political context.

As an idealist, I couldn’t agree more. But as someone who has grown up during the proliferation of social media and amidst stories of Facebook profiles being grounds for firing (or not hiring) someone, I’ve realized the lines between private and public are blurred. Constantly.

And as a 20-something millennial, I will always be at odds with the balance of personal and professional, public and private. I’ve created a opportunity for someone to get to know me –- or judge me –- every time I share a photo on Instagram, post to Twitter, share on Facebook, check out someone on LinkedIn and update my Tumblr, etc.

And that’s just the digital world. There’s plenty of room for misrepresentation and judgment when behavioral evidence from the “meat world” shows up online. And it will. (Anyone haunted by freshman year of college?)

A recent article in Time discussed a study that found college students who posted party pictures (enjoying a drink or two) were just as responsible and hard working as those who didn’t post party pictures.

Surprised by those findings?

San FranciscoI would guess not. In my experience, my digital footprint illustrates some of the very qualities that have been advantages thus far in my career –- a hunger to learn and experience more by exploring the city, being extroverted, communicating with my friends and discussing current events, constantly taking advantage of opportunities to learn by trying new things and meeting new people. Should I be cast aside, considered a lesser employee, because of what’s on my Facebook page?

While I can understand why some prefer to keep their private and public lives separate, mine are blended, which makes me feel I’ve found a job and career where I can truly be myself. And my digital footprint supports that notion. My friends and my colleagues are one in the same in many cases and my Fast Horse responsibilities and interests outside of work continuously influence my creative process – reading, creating/appreciating art, exploring and listening to new music, etc.

At the end of the day, it’s good for me –- professionally and personally.