When I had originally set up my twitter account, I had intended for it to be mainly for library related things. In my head, I wanted there to be a separation between my personal life, which I mainly kept on Facebook, and my student/professional life. Even after joining the HackLibSchool team, I didn’t befriend my co-editors right away on Facebook and I just interacted with them mostly on Twitter. Actually, many of my friends, even my classmates in real life don’t even know that I write for a blog, or have my own. Not that it’s a good thing they don’t know these facts about me, it just goes to show how separated I have been trying to keep my life; but now all those divisions are tumbling down.
I’m friending more librarians on my personal Facebook and I’m losing touch with some of my California acquaintances/friends. I spent a good part of yesterday questioning myself about what I thought constituted a friendship or a connection, and which of those are actually valuable to me. My professional and personal are quickly becoming intertwined and at first, that gave me pause. On the other hand, it might be a sign that I am actually transitioning into a profession. Some of the people who give me the most support in my academic endeavors are people that I have never met.
You know what? These connections mean more to me in many ways; but I can’t help but feel like I’m losing part of my past. I haven’t talked to some of my best friends in ages! These are ones who have known me for years, prior to library school, who supported my decisions to pursue this degree. This makes me sad, because I’m finding that the physical distance puts a strain on these friendships, but I also know that they’re not going anywhere. I am also looking forward to getting to know some of my newer friends that I’ve met at conferences, because I have many things in common with them, sometimes even more than people I have known for a long time or in real life. It’s actually refreshing to meet these folks because they make me feel more at home. I think as we move forward in our lives, our interests change and so do our friendships.
I think my issue was that before I had actually met some of my internet library friends in real-life, I thought it would be easy to keep a division between my two worlds. Once I actually got the ALA, relaxed, got over my anxiety of talking to strangers, I found it much easier to approach people. The Pumped Librarian put it best in her post-ALA wrap up, when she said that it’s better not to think of networking as networking, but rather hanging out with cool people in your profession (she says it a lot better, I’m just paraphrasing). Being at ALA basically felt like I was hanging out with my friends, even if technically, what I was doing could be considered networking. After all the awesome meet-ups, I got Facebook requests and also made some requests on my own. As a result, I’ve found that my worlds are crossing over and I’m having a harder time distinguishing professional from personal. Looking back on my initial segregation, I just feel silly about it.
At this point, I have decided that I need to come to terms with a few things in my life. First off, librarianship is now a HUGE part of my life and who I am. It’s not only a professional interest, but a personal passion, so anyone in real life who knows me needs to know this. Second, I’m not going to be anyone that I am not. At first, I didn’t know how to use twitter, I didn’t want to retweet Andrew WK because I was afraid it wasn’t “professional”. Whatever, if you don’t think he’s hilarious, something is wrong with you. Kidding aside, I do understand the fine line between what’s inapproriate conduct and what’s acceptable. I will say, I find it boring to follow people on twitter who only tweet articles and never interact with other people. Twitter is one of the main reasons why I felt comfortable approaching people and introducing myself to them. It was easier to talk to people at ALA11 because I interact with them on Twitter. I will admit that my online presence has slowly become a better representation of who I am in real life. I know I’m capable of good work and am a pretty nice person, which I think that’s what will really shine through. No more hiding, no more walls.