In my quest to figure out how the personal and professional can work together on Facebook, I spoke to several Facebook friends of mine who I noticed were trying to walk that line.
I talked first to my friend Eugene Robinson, with whom I worked at Intel Corporation many years ago. Eugene is a modern Renaissance man – he works as an editor for Gladiator magazine, wrote FIGHT: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ass Kicking But Were Afraid to Get Your Ass Kicked for Asking, is the lead singer for the post-punk rock group Oxbow, writes operas, reads poetry, etc. He’s also very, very funny, and I got great pleasure from our wall-to-wall banter when we first hooked up on Facebook last summer.
But then I noticed (horrors) that he was deleting my wall posts — that his whole Facebook page, in fact, was periodically stripped of the fun, personal stuff that I and others of his friends put there. So I gave him a call to ask him what his Facebook strategy was.
SED: Dude! Why do you keep taking down my Wall posts on your page?
ER: I’ve always meant for my Facebook page to be strictly professional. Other people in music and publishing told me it was a good way to get publicity. I’ve actually never had any interest in personal networking. I find the whole scene vaguely creepy. So everything I do on Facebook is meant to sell books and CDs. You know, “all roads point to Rome.”
SED: So the 1200 Facebook friends you have? Those are your fans, not your friends?
ER: Absolutely. No one has that many friends. I see Facebook as a big phonebook. Originally I had the goal of knowing — or knowing of — 80 percent of my Facebook friends. That’s not happening now.
SED: You delete personal wall posts when they appear on your page. What else do you do to keep it strictly business?
ER: I set the privacy options so that other people can’t see what I post on other peoples’ walls. Some people can’t even see my status updates.
SED: Is there any social aspect of Facebook that you like?
ER: I like the fact that you’re able to gather all the tendrils of your life in one place. But the flip side of that is that it’s like the most uncomfortable dinner party in the world. There’s a reason, after all, that I don’t take my fight friends to poetry readings and my poet friends to fights.
Next Up: A business woman who started out professional, then decided it behooved her to let a personality shine on Facebook.