Having a (digital) life outside work

One of my co-workers was recently laid off, and almost immediately afterward, I revived my long-dormant Twitter account. Part of me felt restless and bored; I felt like seeing what I could make of my Twitter-blog combo as I drew ever-closer to my wedding date.

But I think another part of me was trying to re-establish a digital life after letting myself become consumed with my job. As you may know, I’m the editor of a community news website here in Metro Detroit, and so my life is spent on this laptop: writing, emailing, Facebooking and tweeting. When I got busy, trying to hold everything together all the while remaining engaging and interactive on my social media accounts became so trying, that the thought of doing something for myself was out of the question.

But then, there were the unexpected layoffs. In one day, my co-worker went from having 10,000 things on her plate … to nothing. She couldn’t even access her work email account. She was cut off and simply put, left to her own devices.

Now I’ve thought a lot about — and worked really hard to maintain — having a separate “life” away from work. Because of the nature of my job (I work from home and oftentimes 60+ hours a week), those two things often intertwine. Sometimes it’s OK: that’s the nature of being a journalist, after all. Sometimes it’s unbelievably frustrating. And so I’ve worked to create my own separate space away from work, and I’ve made it clear that when I’m not working — I’m not working. Sorry. Find someone else to take care of it.

But I didn’t extend this much to my digital life. I’ve been posting a lot to Facebook recently, but that’s mainly because my derby sisters are there. But like I mentioned before, I let my Twitter account fall into disuse and had a hard time maintaining this blog.

After seeing how cut off my co-worker has become, I want to rebuild my online presence. Not only is it kind of fun (although if I attract any creepers, I may have to reconsider), but it’s necessary in this economy. I could unexpectedly lose my job some day, and if that happens, I don’t want to spend the next month or so rebuilding my “online brand” so that when I apply to the next job, I have something to show for myself. This may mean carving out time to work on this “brand” during my day-to-day, but it’s something I’m just going to have to do.

In the spirit of all this, I decided to try out Foursquare. I signed up for Foursquare last year for work, but then I constantly forgot to check in on my way to meetings, that it kind of fell to the wayside. I’d like to see how it works for me personally. Those who love it really love it, so maybe that could be me? I don’t know. It could just be a grand experiment. But you never know until you try.


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