Some months back, during a work-related lunch, I was talking to S, an avid Facebook user and one who lives more in the digital realm than the real one. He has written a novel, which he is currently in the process of finding a publisher. He said something that has played on my mind since then.
So S promotes each of his blog posts on Facebook quite aggressively. He has a FB page that says ‘S, Writer’. He has been invited to give his valued opinion on TV on socially relevant topics and recently was called to speak at a book launch. They were all for the local media and functions. The organisers found him through Facebook. When I added that I have a blog but I don’t promote it on FB, he was surprised. He added that by not advertising my posts on FB, I was losing out on readers and opportunities. I know many people do this and are rewarded with legions of readers or at least visitors out of which some are like-minded souls. He went to the extent of asking me if I was not confident enough of my writing to advertise my posts on FB!
I was aghast and a tad bit angry that this accusation was made at all. Obviously, this guy doesn’t know me. I mean I have worked with him for years but he wouldn’t have known me since all he has seen is my work persona that I put on everyday along with ironed clothes to go to work.
My work persona is very very different from who I am. For starters: I need to dumb down everything I say at work. Or else no one will understand me and things won’t get done. Or worse think that I am showing off. Once I remember I had used one word ‘linger’ to describe how I’d want an animation to go. (‘Let X linger on the screen for Y seconds before…’ or something like this.) And a manager came over to ask why I used ‘linger’ since no one in his team would understand what that was which meant the animation would be interpreted in a different way. So I changed ‘linger’ but the memory of it lingered for years.
I wouldn’t have survived so long if I didn’t have a work persona to buffer me in the rough and tough world of work. I don’t know about others but I cannot be myself at work.
Since I am flawed and human, there are leakages. Sometimes my real persona comes through and then it causes a lot of confusion. For instance, in one of my previous workplaces, someone asked me to contribute an article for the office blog. Not keen on spending whatever little free time I had writing for the office blog, I sent over an old post from this blog. I was so sure no one would read it. I was wrong. People did read it and moreover were surprised that I had written it. A top boss suddenly came over to say hello. The article was mentioned during my annual performance review. Of course, it was unfavorably compared to my work performance. *face palm* Such leakages aside, most people at work would have seen only my work persona.
I have always had this division for as long as I can remember. I was one person in school and another at home. Years back when my classmate met my cousin, they couldn’t decide whether I was the silent type or the talkative one. Which understandably flummoxed both of them. Back then, I didn’t even know that I was so conflicted.
Coming back to the situation. Sipping on my mojito and without missing a beat, I told him it’s not a lack of confidence rather the opposite. I am so confident that I don’t need Facebook to draw readers to my blog. Which kind of put a stop to the discussion.
There are somethings I like to do with my blog and some, I don’t. I don’t like monetising the blog or promoting it on Facebook. I don’t mind collaborating as long as I retain my creative freedom.
I am not comfortable sharing my blog posts on FB because it has become full with more work people than friends. Though there are some friends who pull me back from time to time. Also, I feel that I am able to express myself better in a long-drawn out post like this one than in an FB post. Those who comment on FB might not understand and those who do understand, understandably stay away. It’s the same work/real persona conflict played out in social media. I don’t like conflict at all so most of the time I shut up on FB and open up on my blog.
When I look back at what I said in the heat of the moment, I realise that it is true. You might ask me what gives me this confidence to retort back the way I did. I have only a handful of (loyal) readers, no speaking assignments at functions, no TV shows or an FB page or even a written novel. But I still feel I am better off. I have the freedom to be myself. I don’t want to compromise that for some numbers on the stats counter and TV shows and speaking assignments. And if they do come, it will be because of my real persona and not something I am forced to be for a short while.