Two Worlds Merge: Social and Professional Life Online

As I’m getting ready to go out in the ‘real world,’ I find myself coming to the conclusion that working in the creative industry will not give me a stable job or a position with constant hours or tasks. As Mark Deuze points out in Media Work, “it is important to note here that this trend amplifies …any traditional understanding of the stable, lifelong “nine-to-five” career protected by the long-term investment of a company or public agency” (5). The trends he is referring to are the “…flexible working arrangements [such as] telework and telecommuting…such increased variability in working hours contributes to the blurring of the boundaries between work and private life” (4). Jobs that once had definitive start and end time meant that once 5 o’clock hit, work was over and social time began. However, the irregularity of job hours and positions in the creative industry now disrupts the social life.  Not only do I think these irregular jobs and hours are mixing the boundaries of ‘work and private life,’ I think the growth of the online networks help further push the idea that social and work life are one in the same.

To me, growing up, the idea of work and social life were two separate ideas because they were in two different physical spaces. Now, the internet provides one space for work and play to coexist. But how can this be?

Clean up your online profiles with cats!

I remember being a senior in high school, sitting in an assembly about college applications and being told to clean up my Facebook. Colleges would be looking at my social media profiles and could be making judgments about the pictures I post to Instagram, the tweets I send out to the world, or the photos I was tagged in on Facebook. Now a senior in college, I find I’m being told the same thing, but now, it’s not college admission staff that I have to worry about, but potential employers. This is where the idea of work and personal life can find itself merging. The internet is a public space and while these social media platforms were meant to promote personal social activities, you have to be conscious about your online presence to promote a professional online image.

I find this idea of two worlds mixing problematic because if my social life is dictated by my work life, then I feel like my work life is my social life. But in a sense, I am constructing my identity; it’s not really who I am. I’m presenting a ‘cleaned up’ version of myself. My social life has to be behind closed doors, not because I’m doing anything illegal, but because anything that I do could be taken as a misstep and cost me an interview. A tweet could cost me my job. I searched my name in Google and found that it was linked to a Satanic Tumblr page (not sure how that happened), which is not something that I necessarily want following me around. I certainly don’t identify as as a Satanist, but because I reblogged a note that had religious affiliations, my name is forever tied to the Satanic Tumblr page.  All these social media platforms weren’t necessarily meant to be a part of the professional world, but because it is public, it can be considered a part of your identity, whether it be socially or professionally.

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