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Tweety birds and work-life boundaries

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

So, last night, I screwed up. On social media.

It wasn’t the end of the world, not even nearly, and quite quickly and easily fixed. But I crossed a line in my own practice, and the shock of that has made me re-consider an area I thought I had quite settled - the boundaries between my ‘work’ and my ‘life’.

First, background.

I have, for many years, questioned the boundaries between my professional and personal lives. Both have intersected quite easily, and I can’t stop thinking about work in ‘personal’ time, just as I can’t stop thinking about family in ‘professional’ time. This has worked well for me, and as far as I can tell, my employers. Not as brilliant for my wife, who has much clearer boundaries, but she has been understanding.

I have also quite enthusiastically subscribed to the ‘bring your whole self to work’ school of thought, and again have had employers who usually encourage it. It works well for them, and works well for me. At one point, I could barely tell the difference between my ‘day job’, my personal opinions and my Master’s degree project. Cool. Cool. Cool cool cool.

This has been hardest on Twitter. On my personal account, I have strong opinions, am frequently swear-y, and willing to express myself in the blunt, harsh opinions that is often the Twitterverse, and which makes my wife, who works in Comms, shudder. I have also been responsible for a secondary ‘keeping an eye on’ the work Twitter accounts. In all these years, I have never accidentally tweeted a personal opinion from a work account, though I have come close a couple of times. And then, last night, I did.

I stand by the opinion I expressed, though I may not phrase it quite that way if not on Twitter.

I deleted it quickly, but not before a colleague very helpfully took a screenshot for posterity.

My boss seems mostly amused by it, no news media have been in touch…I think I got away.

But this shook me…this was a boundary I had never crossed. So, questions.

  1. Yes, this is ‘me’. But is it really ‘the organisation’? My colleagues would not disagree with the spirit of what I said, but if challenged, would they be able to stand by my action? Would they have to think about it? Is how I represent myself in public fair to them? Does it need to be?

  2. But also, are we too careful in our organisational voice? Does it matter if we swear a bit? Kiwis are about the most foul mouthed people I have lived among, and I easily fit in. Does it even matter if a Kiwi organisation’s social media has a bit of swearing? Isn’t that more authentic?

  3. Aaaand, bigly - do I need to rethink the boundaries I have set (or not) between work and life? What does it mean, as I work from home for the foreseeable future, to have these boundaries? How do my boundaries interact with other people’s boundaries?

So for now, I have logged out of both my organisational Twitter accounts. And it feels…odd. Like an unresolved argument in a relationship.

I have no answers yet, do you? Is the answer 42?

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