Telling stories

When too Much Really is too Much

Posted by southwrite on July 1, 2014

Alice in WonderlandI was talking to a friend recently about an acquaintance and the topic of openness. The person in question tended  to be a bit too explicitly personal in her Twitter postings. Although neither of us were close to this person – it was after all a social “media” acquaintance – we had gotten a pretty intimate view of certain aspects of her life. My friend was concerned that the young lady’s twittering might prove detrimental to her career – what if her employer saw it?

That got me to thinking when is too much too much?  These days the cliché “too much information!” comes to mind on a nearly hourly basis.

Obviously, reality TV and the extreme people who succeed on such shows have made keeping anything private – no matter how embarrassing – seem so, well, 20th Century. In fact, the more extravagant the misdeed the more likely it is to make you a star or an in demand book author (good news for ghost writers).

In fact, campaigning for a spot on a reality show is something you plan your life around. If it isn’t already, reality show contestant should be a job category – and one with true growth potential.

It wasn’t always like that. Once revealing too much was a much more local affair. There was the ameatur bodybuilder who told me about her use of steroids. There was the guy who couldn’t stop talking about his many, many, many feminine conquests. Relatively few ordinary people thought about leveraging their mistakes into media attention and that was a good thing.

Unless you’re aspiring to join the Real Housewives, looking bad may not be so good. Everyone should know by now that what you do online is never private no matter what your privacy settings may be. Social media of every kind has given us all the means to project our talents, opinions and foibles far and wide. Where once our bad taste might have been limited to a few friends, family and co-workers, we can now build a sizable platform from which to expose ourselves.

This ability can outpace your better judgment. Some people have discovered that employers troll social media sites looking for background data on job applicants. Facebook posts and funny pictures can solidify opinions long before you ever show up in your best business suit.

Just as businesses are careful about the image they project to the public, freelancers need to be conscious of what they’re saying to their customers as well. If provocative statements are part of your image then by all means keep writing those attention grabbing Twitter posts. If they aren’t something you want clients to read then don’t. And, save your misdeeds, tall tales, and bad taste for the home office. The dog won’t care and won’t tell.

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