My mother works in HR. As such I am reminded often that my digital footprint may come back to haunt me in ways I can’t possibly foresee. It is not at all hard to find out an awful lot about me just by Googling, and having spent the past decade on forums and running mostly online businesses there is a fair bit to be found. It’s common practice to search a person’s online history, along with their referees in the application process these days, and whilst I think I could still make a pretty good impression during an interview, I would be shattered if my digital footprint were to destroy that for me.
So I try to keep my behaviour nice.
I don’t swear often online and when I do it is generally merited. I choose my words carefully and try to be aware of the impact that those words can have. I have no issue with others swearing online; that is their prerogative and it takes an awful lot to shock this truckie’s wife, but it mostly isn’t for me.
That does not mean I am not opinionated, or that I am spineless. I have strongly held views on any number of topics and I’m not afraid to articulate them. I am however, conscious that those views and how I present them, will tell the interwebs a lot about me, and those impressions will form their concept of who I am, regardless of how accurate they are.
There are any number of smart, opinionated, professional women who create discussion whilst keeping themselves nice. It is not a passive, or trite niceness that they possess, but an ability to engage in a respectful and thoughtful manner. If you tweet them, they tweet back. If you disagree with them, it is a robust debate rather than a gloves off smack down. They are clever, engaged women who inspire with their actions.
I do believe there is a place for the all out I-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me aggravation that some people possess online. Passion and aggression can serve to fire up arguments in a way that pleasantry cannot. I enjoy reading it (particularly feminist debate) and I often use it to better understand some of the issues of the day. But personally, my skin is not thick enough to engage in that sort of debate myself.
If this makes me a bit boring then so be it. I would prefer to have an impassioned argument with someone who knows that our differing views do not impact on our friendship, rather than feel I need to resort to name-calling to make a point.
I believe that it is entirely possible to be an opinionated, passionate woman whilst still keeping myself nice online. I hope so anyway.