When Social Media Becomes Work

Talking with my friend Mike Kennedy recently, I realized that social media have invaded my job. My personal and professional lives are colliding! Blogging and reading blogs have become part of my job description, and there are small Twitter and Facebook communities among my co-workers (including me) and higher-ups. I talk to my boss on Twitter—weird. These things used to be solely personal pursuits—stuff for friends and family. Now I do them at work? Yuck!?

I'm sure this is nothing new to many of BlogCampaigning's readers, but it was a bit of a shock to me, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm happy that my company has started a blog and that I get to write for it. I think it's great that we're actively, if tentatively, pursuing a social media strategy. I've even written some posts on how social media affects the workplace (we're in human resources publishing, so you know).

I think my surprise arises from an artificial barrier that I had built dividing The Internet and its Many Diversions and Modes of Communication including Social Media, from E-Mail and Proprietary Closed Systems and their Singular Purpose of Doing My Job. What I mean is that I previously thought The Internet was for leisure, and one only used it occasionally for work. But in an instant, I recognized that this was far from the truth, and I was thus in some sort of work-leisure limbo. (It's clear now that this realization was building for some time.)

So what now!?

I don't really have a problem with social media entering my job. In hindsight, that was clearly inevitable. This episode has just made me realize that I will now have to deal with all of the mixed-up things that come next: delineating work time from leisure; maintaining a professional web presence; managing the time I am working...

I guess the question is: does this situation even really change anything?

Sure, that barrier has fallen down, but does that mean my behaviour or life will change? I don't know the answer to that yet.

--- Update ---

I think I might have figured it out. The thing is, I already spend a lot time at the computer; I don't like that it has intruded into so many daily functions. If I want to read the news, I go to my computer. If I want to see what my friends are up to or talk to them, I go to my computer. If I want to listen to music or look at photos—computer. If I want to write—computer. Recipes, directions, phone calls, videos, communication... You can probably guess that I don't have a Blackberry or iPhone or some other piece of fancy portable gear. Maybe that's my trouble but I'm not sure.

I have two problems with spending so much time at my computer: guilt and headaches. On the one hand, it just doesn't feel right staring at a digital screen for as long as I do each day; on the other, I feel unhealthy doing it. You could say, "Get a Wii Fit!" But I'm pretty sure that's missing the point. I want to do all of those leisure activities, but I don't want to sit in one spot all day, staring into the bright light, to do them. I want to leave my house!

So I wonder, what is the solution? Am I just waiting for the right technology to come along to allow me to do all of the things I want to without feeling like I'm attached to a machine? Do I want to give up technology altogether? Let me tell you when summer comes around.