When I saw this week’s theme I chuckled. It was as though the editorial gang at dot429 had been eavesdropping on my Story Navigation workshops, because it’s the very first question that Iask.
My bemusement is two-fold. First, because I ask this question as part of my work, the times in which the query is flipped around and directed my way is not that frequent. Beyond that, the truth is that in the work Ido, which is based on a journey of personal discovery I’ll share in a moment, the most critical aspect is helping people clarify that connection between the “who” and “what”in their work and then, here’s the social media part, figure out how to best express that clear voice on-line.
Why is this important?For starters, there’s nowhere to hide online. Once you step onto the digital plane, almost anything and everything you say becomes fodder for public debate. “Like”someone’s comment on Facebook, and you’ve made your opinion known. Comment on someone’s blog and your perspective is public record. Post photos or get tagged in someone else’s and you are on display. Think these are minor items? Think again. These points of reference become part of your narrative, part of the overall picture that appears whenever someone types your name into a search engine. Every step you take online is noted, archived and cached, and at any point in time may raise its digital head.
Hopefully this isn’t new information. If it is, let this serve as a reminder: be mindful about what you say and do online. Much like one of my first newsroom editors said of walking into the studio – the microphone is always on. When someone encounters you professionally and even socially these days the likelihood they’ll Google, Bing or otherwise search for you online is high. What will they find?Will they find a cohesive picture of you?
Think of your on-line self within the parable of the five blind men and the elephant. It is not a single piece of information that conveys the truth, but rather the aggregate of the experience.
Where do Ifit in? Simple. I do what I do because I’m gay. More accurately the work I do is a direct by-product of discovering my voice as an out, proud, lesbian activist. In early 2009 I got involved with the Courage Campaign’s “Camp Courage” program. Based on the philosophy of Harvard lecturer Marshall Ganz, these workshops train LGBT activists on the art and importance of personal storytelling in activism. It was mid way into my second camp it struck me. Having worked in technology for almost 20 years, I am well famliar with people whose ability to express their personal connection to their work is somewhere close to zero. They can code like no one’s business and “sell”a Powerpoint, but were they connected?Could they engage? The answer, I felt, was no.
The good news is that I was right. The better news is that people want to change.