I have two Twitter accounts, @JustAnother and @mamadouthiam. I try to limit my Facebook interactions to friends and family. I occasionally participate on Flickr and YouTube. I blog here and on another site related to my wife’s business. And so on…
What box are you in?
One of my biggest struggles in the social pool is trying to solve the identity puzzle. I often feel unsure of the tone I should take, the level of familiarity I should assume and the level of consistency I should present in each of my different online presences. I know that I am not the only one that struggles with this issue. Chris Brogan wrote yesterday about how the boxes you put yourself in (and those others put you in) can limit what you do.
How big is your box?
The issue takes on even more complexity as your audience grows and your visibility increases. I am reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky and he talks about how, at a certain point, individuals with even marginal followings are outpaced in their ability to interact with their followers. Christopher Allen also has some very interesting posts on the limitations inherent to individuals, groups and communities.
How the game has changed
In all honesty, many of these issues existed long before the recent social networking and online sharing tools evolved. It seems self-evident that I should interact differently at home with my wife and family than I do with my colleagues at work. The main difference now is that the majority of these formerly private conversations and interactions are public. In the past, I could tailor my message and my tone to my audience. Now, it is much more difficult to do that when the audience could be anyone.
The social dashboard
I wish I could come up with something profound to tie off this post but I don’t really feel that I have any satisfactory answers yet. I can only suggest that these tools and technologies are still in their infancy and it is entirely reasonable to expect that better mechanisms will come along in the near future to better synchronize our offline and online worlds. I can easily imagine a social “dashboard” where I can selectively send messages to friends, colleagues, family and all the potential permutations and combinations. Until then see you here, there and everywhere!
Photo Credit: Terminalnomad - Flickr