It’s time to talk about your split personality.
You No. 1 is a dynamic go-getter whose high-powered career is full of accomplishments and challenges, successfully met. You No. 1 is also outgoing, well-connected and constantly engaged in activities that make everyone wish they could meet you.
You No. 2 is a dynamic leave-me-aloner whose low-powered career is full of blunders and failures, successfully covered up. You No. 2 is also introverted, unconnected and constantly engaged in activities that make everyone wish they had never met you.
What’s the difference?
You No. 1 is the you people see on social media. You No. 2 is the real you.
Having a presence on social media is generally considered one of the basic requirements of having a career. Unless you’re constantly developing your personal brand on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, you pretty much don’t exist.
That’s a problem.
Being invisible on social media means you can’t be found by headhunter bots. If they can’t find you in the digital universe, they can’t offer you a signing bonus payable in bitcoins or a leased Tesla, pre-programmed to drive you directly to the Kit Kat Klub for an $18 martini served with a gluten-free olive and a hand-whittled tooth pick that you can write off on your limitless expense account.
Or maybe not.
“Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It” is the title of a column Georgetown Professor Cal Newport recently published in The New York Times.
“You should quit social media,” Professor Newport writes, “because it can hurt your career.”
“How so?” You No. 1 asks. (You No. 2 is too busy playing “Righteous Slaughter 7” to answer.)
Because everyone is doing it is the answer. “In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable,” Newport insists. If the birds and the Beebs can fill our in-boxes with their blather, constantly, instantly, that ain’t rare and valuable. And the belief that creating an online presence will help your career “is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.”
I agree, 110 percent. The last time anything rare and valuable appeared on social media was when I posted a video of a pizza-eating rat playing the accordion and dancing the cha-cha on Facebook. Unfortunately, I had previously unfriended myself on Facebook so I never saw the video, but I hear it went viral and the rat now eats only imported Emmentaler.
“But how can having a social media presence hurt?” You No. 1 asks. (You No. 2 still doesn’t answer, having deserted Strike Team Alpha in the middle of a firefight and taken an early lunch.)
“Why shouldn’t I share my wonderfulness with the world,” You No. 1 persists, “while also exposing myself to, as Professor Newport puts it, ‘the opportunities and connections that social media can generate?'”
Again, the answer is obvious. All the time and effort you spend tending your brand on social media could be used honing your job skills and making yourself a valued employee, who will, eventually, be discovered by virtue of your real work, not your digital presence.
Possibly true, this, but let’s not forget that all that hard work will take years and when you are finally recognized for your finely honed skills, you could be 104. On the other hand, you can add three Harvard degrees, six promotions and a Noble Prize to your LinkedIn profile in about five seconds.
There’s another drawback you should consider. Constantly creating and ingesting social media will make you even more distracted and incompetent than you are now. By endlessly checking a variety of social media sites, you will lose what’s left of your ability to concentrate.
As result, even if your constant social media efforts do succeed in eliciting a fat job offer, you will be so non compos mentis that you’ll never make it through the first interview.
“Sure, I’ll tell you where I want to be five years,” you will say to the HR nerd who is interviewing you. “But first I have to tweet to my Instagram followers that a YouTube video of this interview will soon be available on Bebo, Orkut and Xing.”
“Sound like a keen idea,” the hiring manager will say in return. “While you’re doing that I’ll post all the reasons we would never hire you in a million years on Tumblr, Yammer and Crunchyroll.”
It’s a dirty trick, but it’s only fair. Live by social media; die by social media.
If you don’t agree, send me a Plurk.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at email@example.com.