Today, for the first time, the line between “Mindy the blogger” and “Melinda the journalist” blurred a bit, forcing me to step back from the issue at hand and decide the best means of remedying the situation.
I’ve only been blogging through A MinD in MoTown for one year, but I have remained fairly selective of the material I post because of my occupation, which I’ve made zero effort in hiding – hell, I’ve even discussed and named my very own newspaper. But for some reason, keeping the same moderation over my Twitter account never occurred to me. After all, I jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon long before it hit mainstream media, so I underestimated the reach even my own personal account would have.
Until today, that is. One quick look at my followers and I notice that my Twitter wasn’t only being followed by fellow bloggers and a variety of businesses hoping to earn my dollars. But rather, a local Mooresville resident – a man my editor was able to swiftly identify in the community – found @mskut as well as a regional congressman who has appeared, more than once, in the headlines of my paper as election season approaches. It didn’t take much thought, or much discussion with my editor, before I realized how detrimental their tweet-readership could be to my job.
My Twitter updates aren’t exactly overly explicit or revealing nude pictures of myself. However, they aren’t always entirely work-appropriate either, so a decision had to be made: Self-edit my tweets consistently and review my previous updates, removing anything deemed “too much information,” or put my account on lockdown, removing all local entities and continuing to tweet as I chose.
I swayed toward the latter.
I’m 23 years old and while I often assume others understand that notion, I realize I can’t exactly expect them to do so. It’d be rather foolish on my part to believe anyone should take my age and the immaturity I still possess into account at all times, especially when I’m at the job and attempting – note: attempting – to maintain a level of professionalism.
Likewise, for those Tribune readers who have never met me, the likelihood is low that they’re even aware of my youth. As a matter of fact, people are often shocked by how young I am when they do meet me for the first time. Thus, when they stumble upon my Twitter account – both my Facebook and MySpace have been friends-only for years – they could be completely unaware that my frequent cursing, my discussion of alcoholic beverages or my rants about work are the musings of a girl who still can’t rent a car.
While I’d like to hide behind my age, using it as an excuse for whatever I might say or do, I’m clearly propelling myself into the local limelight, at least in some regard. And with that, there has to remain some level of professionalism in anything others might find about me on the Internet, be it pictures or my blog or even Twitter.
It’s one thing to act with little to no concern and plaster the Web with the ideas and rants, photos and images, of my choosing; it’s another to get caught in the act and lose my job or even the respect of others within this small community. Doing the former is simply not worth the consequences. So although the line was temporarily blurred and my two worlds collided, it was only momentarily and I have remedied the situation, at least for now. But really, what other option did I have?
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