I use Twitter a lot. Stating the obvious, really. But it's causing a little bit of a problem, and it's not one I'm sure how to fix. And I am supposed to be 'the expert' in our organisation, so I am somewhat embarrassed and frustrated by my own inability to walk forth and say 'the solution is this, put it in the guidelines'.
The simple fact is, I'm a geek. So, I like the usual things stereotypical geeks like: XKCD, Dr Who, attending random sci-fi conventions, unconferences and bar camps, as well as attending assorted genres of live music gigs, concerts and festivals. Mix this with 1600 followers containing assorted local and national journalists, Heads of Department and Sections, Directors, Ministers and other various 'important people' out in the real world and suddenly it feels as though it would be quite an imposition to tweet that, for example, I thought Matt Smith was looking particularly fit in the Christmas Day Dr Who special.
Added to this that when attending events with hashtags attached to them, I tend to tweet at a rate of 20 or so an hour (or more) you can see where the problem lies.
When someone follows you, it feels as if you're a guest in their digital space. You're taking up pixels. The more people who follow you, the more this becomes true, the more the pressure mounts, to say something worthy, something important. You don't retweet things because no one else would find it interesting. You don't say anything about anything becaue no one would be interested and eventually, the very reason people followed you in the first place - because you are interesting - is snuffed out.
So here's my advice to other people wondering about the weird cross between 'personalisation', 'personal brand' and being yourself on Twitter. If you're the kind of person who has a lot of real life friends on Twitter, and a whole social bubble off Twitter, create a seperate account. Use it to organise D & D sessions, tweet from gigs and festivals, for posting that random picture. Chill out, relax, do what you always did. Set up another account for 'work' and make sure that there's some of you on there as well, but keep the geeky randomness seperate. But if the work you do is Ruby or something equally geeky that not all your friends will be interested in, don't be surprised if they follow your 'work' account and quickly unfollow you. They simply wont be interested in that cool bit of code and while the odd tweet here and there wont annoy, I speak from immediate experience when I say when the signal to noise ratio goes above a certain point, Twitter will no longer be where you can organise a quick present swap at Xmas - no one will be following you.
Most people wont have this problem. Most people are offline more than on. Most people can combine beautifully themselves and their work and irritate neither camp excessively. This problem, I think, might be a uniquely geeky one.
What has been fascinating to me over the last day or so is the kind of person who understands entirely why I've done this, and the kind of person who cannot understand at all. And the demographics don't break down the way you'd think. Non geeks understand, just as much as geeks do, though my geeky friends perhaps understand most of all as they're finding a similar collision of cultures.
There is a new world order out there. Being you is absolutely a good thing. An expected thing. It allows people to trust you, warm to you, understand what motivates and drives you. But there is a line, nevertheless, which must not be crossed and I have finally found it easier to draw the line myself, than expect others to do it for me.
The new world order isn't quite as simplistic and easy to comprehend as I was expecting it to be. I suspect there are some more challenges upcoming in the near future around what constitutes a friend, the connections which are made on social media which don't necessarily transfer into the real world, what happens when you get to know someone on social media, meet them face to face and have nothing to say......
I'll keep writing about them and sharing experiences, because I think it's important. No one is an expert in this, no matter what they might think, we all get caught out. Wrong account tweeted from, wrong thing said, a view harshly and clumsily expressed. Tweets can be deleted but words are still seen.
I'd like to think the world has space for a fluffy little geek, but ultimately, there is a professional expectation of a woman to be a certain way in the workplace, and so that way I will be.