A MinD in MoTown

Under lock and key.
May 14, 2009, 4:46 pm
Filed under: News Girl, Yet another girl in the blogosphere

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?

13 Comments so far
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Aww my little MinD is becoming famous, sort of. Well I think I prefer you going private over just censoring everything. Either way it is kind of sad that twitter just wont be the same for you.

It’s really the same. Half the people who followed me anyway were companies, porn of some nature or people I didn’t know whatsoever anyway. No big.

Comment by Patrick

That’s kind of shaddy on his behalf, was he trying to gain information to use against you? I think I sent you an article I came across when I as gathering information about for my radio show. It talked about how athletes that were expected to get drafted were having there own myspace, facebook, and everything else looked at. Teams were having employees create fake accounts (pretending to be hot women none the less) asking to be friends to gain access. That’s one of the problems of living in the IT age, too many people lying to gain information to use against people. Every college (well the ones that I’ve visited) have warned students that their social networking sites could hurt them when searching/interviewing with a perspective employer. It sucks but it’s a double edge sword.

It’s not actually shady, if you ask me. Some people just want to follow anyone and everyone who lives nearby.

Comment by Jonathan

As long as we’re still Twitter buds, I’m cool with it… 😉

And that we are!

Comment by LiLu

I’m hearing (or reading) more and more stories like these. One of my professors always said that It’s best to make your social media accounts private or more censored because…YOU NEVER KNOW.

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it with my Twitter. I’ve always been very particular about my blog, and both Facebook and MySpace were locked, so you’d think I would have put more consideration into my Twitter account’s privacy settings. Oh well.

Comment by thatShortChick

It’s stories like this that really make me wish Twitter allowed you to protect individual tweets as well as your entire account. I had to go “underground” for a little bit for similar reasons and I kinda hated (it’s also the reason my linkedin profile is attached to my twitter account and not my blog). These situations suck because part of the fun of Twitter is conversing with others.

It’s hard to do that behind a padlock.

Those kind of settings would be great, although I wonder how often people would employ them. The situation does suck, and it’s sad to know everything I say has to be protected now. But unlike you, I think I’ll stay “underground.”

Comment by TOPolk

Wait, does that mean we can’t HOPE for nude pics??

You can hope. Now that I’m “protected,” who knows what’ll happen! Ha.

Comment by Muppet

It’s hard how work bleeds into your personal life. It’s intrusive, but what can do you? Best wishes. I was a teacher and had a youtube account. None of my content was questionable but clever & funny. However, parents found it (those stalkers) and I had to private a few videos and was prohibited from uploading future videos. Granted, I’m no longer a teacher, but it did suck

That would have to suck horribly. Some teachers in Charlotte got fired earlier this year for questionable material on their Fbook accounts. I really felt bad for them, but at the same time, what they were posting … they should have known better. I suppose I should have also though when it came to my Twitter. We all make mistakes, right?

Comment by phampants

I’m careful not to talk much about work on my blog or on twitter. I also don’t talk about my wild partying, but that’s because I don’t do any. At 25, I think it’s okay to mention that I do drink alcohol. I’ve made every effort for my work not to find my blog, but if they did, it wouldn’t be detrimental. Still, when twitter really started going mainstream, I made all my tweets private. I didn’t want to do it, but twitter stopped feeling so safe and anonymous.

After my experience yesterday, Twitter definitely feels far less safe or anonymous. I figured a few bloggers would follow me, maybe some people back home in PA, but never individuals who knew me as “Melinda the reporter.” It was a huge letdown having to protect it, but I have to do what’s necessary. I don’t worry about my blog as much – my editor knows about it and has read it, and I’m careful about what I say – but I drunkenly posted on Twitter, and cursed a lot, so that had to disappear from the spotlight asap.

Comment by Ashley

I don’t think you really had any other choice. It’s interesting to think about how the impact of things like Twitter can vary just based on community, town or city size. I think you probably made the right choice…it’s definitely a difficult thing to negotiate at times and our generation is really the first one to have to deal with it and figure it out as we go along. Good luck!

So true. We’re the generation that has to lock up our lives just to ensure our jobs. It’s unfortunate. I’m glad you think I made the right choice, although I definitely didn’t have another option.

Comment by hautepocket

I recently managed to upset a friend via my blog. It was a case of me venting and getting it out of my system and forgiving him (I didn’t even name and shame him) or letting it all seethe up inside me and never talk to him again. I chose the former while he then chose the latter. He appears to have lost his sense of humour since he emigrated to Canada….

That’s a bummer. I guess our blogs and all have more of a personal reach than we tend to consider sometimes. Sorry that happened!

Comment by BlackLOG

I just recently added my twitter updates to my personal site… I had already removed links from my blog there, but decided to go ahead with twitter. We’ll see how long it lasts.

I used to have the twitter updates on my blog, but once I went private, I had to remove them. They don’t update from “protected” twitter accounts.

Comment by rini

It freaks me out how easily people can find information about us, and while I haven’t had to deal with something along these lines (yet), I know that one day, someone from my town will stumble upon my blog. And that freaks me out entirely because, while I don’t really write about work or talk about it on my blog Twitter account, who knows what they’ll take away from it?

I’m so sorry you have had to deal with this.

That’s exactly how I feel. I’m not concerned about my blog. I maintain that the best I can. And it’s not that I posted ridiculous information on my Twitter. I just don’t know how others would respond to me truly being myself on that site, and because of that, the lock was needed. Bummer, ya, but I guess it’s part of being in an industry like ours, where you are judged on more than what ends up in the paper.

Comment by E.P.

good for you for that decision. i find (while the internet IS a public domain) that it kind of takes your ‘privacy’ away. we shouldn’t have to keep a level of professionalism in all that we do. ugh. if i had to do that no more horny tweets!!

Haha. I wish that professionalism wasn’t needed at all times. How can I be a 23-year-old without that immaturity at times, without that sense of fun and reckless abandon at moments? Instead, I can be that girl but I can’t portray it via my own Internet outlets. Sucks, but I suppose that’s part of growing up in the 21st century, huh?

Comment by floreta

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