I am a libra. Like most people I know, I put no faith in the zodiac; I have no magical belief that everyone born within a 30-day block can share the same daily experience, or bear the same personality traits. But as pure amusement, if a horoscope passes in front of me, I may read it, just for fun. I always thought libra meant balance. It is the sign of the scales, after all, and so I believed it meant temperance, and equivocation. That’s not really me. I’d like to be more balanced, but I’m probably closer to manic. Then, while I was teaching at a high school in Brooklyn, a colleague asked for my zodiac sign. When I told her, she nodded: “That makes sense.”
“It does?” I asked. “I’m not exactly a balanced person.”
“Libras aren’t balanced. Libras are duplicitous. Libras head to the extremes. Libras are two things at once, playing both sides of the scales.”
I still don’t read my horoscope regularly, but I was amazed that her description is exactly how I’ve always thought of myself. I’ve always enjoyed leading two lives at once. I like having two separate personalities. In High School, I was occasionally shy, trying to remain unnoticed at the back of the class room. But I also had speaking roles in our high school plays (I was the killer in our production of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians”).
Today, I still live much the same way. At work, I’m serious and driven. I arrive when the parking lot is still empty. I volunteer my time for any project in which I might have a passing interest. With my friends, I’m casual and laid back. I wear nothing more formal than cork sandals, and I enjoy catching as many jam-band concerts in a summer as I can. I don’t think I’m unique in this respect, I’m sure many folks live the same way.
On Twitter, I’m professional. I don’t curse. I don’t always talk about work, but I don’t talk about anything I would not say in front of my work colleagues. On Facebook, I’m personal. I’m not friends with anyone from my career unless I like them personally and I’ve spent time with them socially. As I’ve described here, I even have an extra Facebook account that I use expressly for dirty jokes and sardonic remarks that only my closest circle would understand without recoiling in disgust.
I was pretty happy with this arrangement, and then Google+ comes around. I still haven’t figured it all out yet, so please don’t consider this a review. I’m not sure how my content is being shared, who can see it, and how relationships between myself, my friends, and my circles all work. I haven’t developed the instinct for it, so I haven’t been sharing much on it, at least not yet.
My Google+ account is currently clogged with my most tech-savvy friends, for obvious reasons. But all of the invites I’ve distributed from my spare allotment have gone to civilian friends on Facebook, not to tech cronies. When new invites appear, I offer them to my personal contacts before my professional colleagues.
So, here’s what I intend for Google+, and here is why I think another social network could be useful in my life. There are things I do not talk about on Twitter. I never post photos of my son. It’s not entirely a security issue, though Twitter is much more public than Facebook, so I am wary of sharing too many personal details.
I rarely talk about what I did last weekend on Twitter. It’s mainly because of the assumptions that can be made about one’s activities. I saw 2 movies one weekend, and otherwise never left my apartment complex. I went to have drinks for happy hour on Friday, and that turned into a much later evening than I expected, leaving me with multiple stamps on my arm that did not fade until Monday morning. I flew to Maryland to visit my parents, but also to intercept a group of old friends who are criss-crossing the country following the band Phish on tour.
All of these things say more about myself than I would normally share on Twitter. There is nothing scandalous here, but I believe my Twitter followers mostly found me because of my job. I was a tech journalist at a Web site, and now I’m an insider at Samsung. So, I talk tech, I talk Web sites, and I don’t talk about Samsung. If you want to discuss tech, or Web sites, or try to figure out from my omissions what I can’t tell you about Samsung, follow me on Twitter.
There are similarly things I don’t share on Facebook. These are old high school friends, camp friends, youth group friends. These are distant relatives, both in geographic distance and distance on the family tree. These are people who call every Android phone a Droid, and who honestly believe Facebook is going to start charging you money, selling your photos to advertisers, and letting strangers turn on your Web cam to watch you in the shower. These are not people who care much about technology, unless they want to know which cell phone they should buy (admittedly, my answers have become much more skewed since I started with Samsung).
But there are intersections. There are Facebook friends who may want to hear a little more about tech. There are Twitter folks who have become more than professional colleagues, who may be interested in learning more about my personal life. I do live two separate and distinct lives, socially and professionally, but they are not so different that my world would explode if the two ever came together. I’m not talking Relationship George and Independent George here, I’m just talking about different interests, and different levels of personal interaction.
Google+ will be the center in the Venn diagram of my life. It will be where these things come together. My avatar will be a picture of my son holding a cell phone up to his face. I will share pictures of the seedy underbelly of tech trade shows (think body painting and Sprint-tini cocktails).
It won’t be easy. I like living two distinct lives. I have plenty of friends on both sides of the coin, so there is no need to try to merge the two. But I am curious about what would happen if I did. With a legitimate third player entering the social networking Battle Royal, I have an opportunity to bridge the gap, and I’ll be curious to see how my perception of myself changes as a result.