Monthly Archives

August 2011

No silly season here

Gah, it’s been manic. Here’s why:

1) Silly season becomes serious season

In the world of journalism and universities (my job kinda straddles both) August is supposed to be ‘silly season’, where nothing much happens and you can glide through the days, working on the stuff you haven’t had time for during the other 11 months of the year. Not so this year, in either respect. Work has been crazy busy with not a second to spare, lots of projects starting or finishing and lots of deadlines to be met. And LOTS of emails. I mean, who actually did any work before email was invented? We’ve also been hearing about the goings on in Libya, the endless ins and outs of the phone hacking scandal and about the riots in London, Birmingham and oop north (and in MK where watermelons were the weapon of choice – hardcore youths or what?) which turned silly season into a very serious season.

2) Mastering a Masters

I’m starting an MA in Online Journalism with Birmingham City University in September. This is the first mention of this on my blog but it won’t be the last and I’ve been planning an offshoot of Robyn’s Nest to pour my MA ramblings into. So keep an eye out for Journo Nest, coming soon. Why am I doing it? Because it’s time for the next challenge; I’ve realised journalism will always be my passion and I want to turn the online skills I’ve learned through trial and error into something more tangible and useful to my future career, whatever that may be. Plus there’s so much cool stuff happening out there in online journalism and I want to be part of it. Oh, and I don’t have a degree – which has never been a problem for me but warrants a whole separate blog post – and I’d quite like to boast some letters after my name, just for the craic. And so, registering, references, getting accepted – I have a scholarship! – and sorting my pre-course reading list, attempted timetable, doing plenty of online research and applying to blog elsewhere (as a project for my MA) has kept me pretty darn busy.

3) Hell yeah, I have a social life

My social life has been busy too. Given that the MA is likely to wipe away a lot of my social activity, I’m cramming it in now. So that’s meant trips to the shire to see friends and family and catch up with newly engaged friends; a trip to Liverpool to see my mate’s pregnancy bump for the first time; arranging another mate’s hen weekend which is approaching quicker than I dare to think about; hosting friends and their children (which serves as a reminder that I’m not quite ready to trade lie ins for screaming babies just yet); catching up with the in-laws at barbecues, dinners and tours of our new house; brunch with my Leicester buddies and their children who squeal every time Ralphie draws near and the puzzlement on his face because most people melt at the site of him; the last of the summer season of netball matches and the odd training session; dinner with the MK posse to celebrate some fabulous news, and a Mexican-themed Come Dine With Me, MK style, which takes place this weekend at Chez Robyn. Hmmm, not sure I have time to grow a curly moustache by then.

4)  Growing a plan

Me and hubbles wanted to set some milestones and try and suss out our five-year plan. So many of my friends have one of these (cripes, does that mean we’re all growing up? At last!) and we kinda felt left out. We actually have no idea what we want in the next five years (apart from being filthy rich and living in bliss in a spacious Manhattan apartment with huge roof garden for Ralphie) other than we’d like to re-turf the garden, grow vegetables, dig a nice border and fill it with shrubs. So, no idea what the future holds for us but if that doesn’t look rosy the garden certainly will do.

5)  Walkies!

I spend a lot of time with Ralphie. He gets a 6am walkies, I dash from work to do the lunch time shift and he gets one most evenings too. It’s not for my love of walking, it’s for love of Ralphie. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t walk him, one of the things he loves most. He gets ridiculously excited just if I go to the cupboard where his lead’s kept or if I slip my shoes on. He’s had a sore paw of late too and not been his usual perky, bouncy self. I can only describe it as a pink slug attached to the top of his paw which he’s obsessed with licking. Antibiotics have been prescribed but it’s reminded me and hubbles how protective we are of him and how we’d do anything to make him happy and comfortable. No wonder we’re not ready for kids – Ralphie has our full focus at the mo. I do love that little bow wow.

6) Stoopid chores

It seems to be the time of year when I need an eye test; car needs a service and MOT; savings accounts need setting up; the boiler needs checking; I need to restock my make-up bag, ongoing battle with scummy ex landlord involving lots of letter writing; and I could do with registering at the doctors sooner rather than later. And loads of other trivial stuff which mounts up and means free time is never all that free. Oh, and HSBC have gone and made it nigh on impossible to access my bank account online unless I want to carry a small calculator around with me. Grrr. I feel a strongly worded letter coming on.

So, apols for the lameness of this blog post; much more meaty stuff is to come, I promise.

Can you successfully split your online identity in two?

Split personalitiesI’m not a particularly private person but neither do I hang my dirty washing out to dry online. I’m happy to share snapshots of my life with those people I brush shoulders with professionally but I won’t be letting any skeletons fall from the cupboards and into the internet. But equally, I’m not two people. So I can’t separate the ‘at home’ me from the ‘at work’ me because where does one end and the other begin?

I recently conducted a little experiment to see if I could split my professional and personal online personas into two – so one for work stuff and one for the out of hours stuff. I didn’t even realise that it was an experiment until it completely and utterly failed; I was somehow expecting it to be a simple step. Uh uh. So while it took me ages to create a new Twitter account, it didn’t take long to find out that I can’t split my personality in two.

Maybe, in part, it’s because of my job. From the day my career began, just because I left the office at 5pm that wasn’t to say I was off duty. I had to live on the patch of the newspaper I worked for (twas in the contract, so it was) and I’d get shot if I walked past an arson attack and failed to call it in just because it was Sunday. Now things have moved on… smartphones, for example, mean I can check email before tea, after tea, before the 10 o’clock news and just before bed, and swap tweets with stakeholders, so I’m never really off duty.

So, back to this experiment. A couple of discussions had led me to believe that maybe, just maybe, there should be a clearer divide between my personal and professional identities online.

Facebook isn’t an issue, for me it’s for friends only – and that does include colleagues I like – but it’s not for people I barely talked to at school, people I meet in bars or those who feel the need to friend request me because we share the same surname. Nope.

Talk a bit of shit

My main issue was with Twitter… should I have a professional account AND a personal one? So, let the experiment begin… I decided to use my established account as the pro one and set up another for spouting utter bollocks. Yes, tis true, I like to talk a bit of shit every now and then, who doesn’t?

But I hit an immediate problem: the people I follow and who follow me under @robynbateman didn’t automatically follow me back on my new personal account. And why should they? They already got what they needed from my initial account, the personal/professional issue was mine, not theirs.

And I found it pointless tweeting from my personal account when not very many people were listening. It was harder to start conversations because people didn’t know me as @personalusername they knew me as @robynbateman. Networks take time to grow and become of value and by hopping over to a second account I’d given up an established network of followers I know (although not necessarily in person).

And managing two Twitter accounts needs a bigger investment of time. I found myself wondering which to tweet from. If I only tweeted work stuff from my pro account, wouldn’t it get a bit boring? And if I only tweeted personal stuff from the personal account where would  the context be? The who I am, the what I do? It really would be just me spouting bollocks. And what about my writing and journalism and book reviewing stuff, which strays into both personal and professional territory? Could I tweet the same from both accounts? Not really. So which one should miss out? Tweeting was becoming a process I had to think about. less organic. And so it became a chore.

Stand by your tweets

Friends also struggled to know which account to contact me on. Conversations I wanted in the professional arena came to the personal one and vice-versa (some followed me on both) so I missed stuff. So soon – and without really realising – I found myself only using my original Twitter account. And that realisation prompted me to hold my hands up, say ‘I tried this folks and it didn’t work’ and stop using the account I’d labelled as personal.

It just didn’t work. I tried it and it didn’t. It really didn’t.

I cannot split myself into two people. And while I know when to be professional and when I can let loose, for me, Twitter is about networking and two accounts, two personas, makes it tricky for those networks to deal with you and know who you really are.

As BBC’s Andy Cunningham once said, stand by your tweets. And I do. I am more than capable of talking crap, tweeting jokes in semi poor taste and winding up friends and colleagues. But that’s me and nothing I tweet (or at least I don’t think) would reflect on me in a super bad way (er… I may need to take back that tweet about Harry Potter having a big wand). I’m just me, one person, doing a job, enjoying what I enjoy, and sharing it with the people I love and (occasionally) loathe on Twitter.

What about you? Have you tried to split yourself in two? Please share…

PS Oddly, even though the account is inactive and my last tweet says something along the lines of “this didn’t work, follow me at @robynbateman) I still get new followers on what was my personal Twitter. Pay attention peoples!

Picture by Lisa Brewster via Flickr under Creative Commons licence