, , ,

Everyone knows that first impressions are important whether securing a job in an interview, meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, or attending your first day of school.

If our “in-person” moments are important, shouldn’t our “on-line” moments be just as important?! Yet some people will post things they would never say directly to their grandmother, or to their employer for that matter. Why is that? Why do some people say things on-line that they would never say when face to face? We have all heard the adage: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. It’s one of the first rules we are taught in kindergarten. Still many of us break the rule without giving it a second thought, even though we have been told a hundred times that words can come back to haunt us. On-line moments might even be worse – these verbal and visual transgressions can be shared over and over. If tagged, remixed, and re-tweeted, these indiscretions will live on!

Decorum—is a word you don’t hear very often. Perhaps it’s because it sounds old fashioned, yet there is something right about it. If you look the word up the following descriptors appear along with it: dignity, correctness, politeness, tact, respectability, etiquette. No matter the situation we need to embody decorum—even when we are mad, or tired, or frustrated, or silly, or drunk.

I am not going to lie to you. I have not always been the embodiment of decorum. The difference for me is this: I didn’t grow up in the digital age. The digital age came along after I graduated high school and university. Things are different now. A hand held device, screenshots, social media, and the Internet have changed how we make our first impressions. This doesn’t mean I am anti-digital or anti-21st century. It just means that the wonder, the beauty, the power of the digital age has to be harnessed appropriately. As a teacher, a librarian, and a humanist, I certainly don’t want to return to life before the Internet. Perish the thought. I embrace my digital world–the beautiful and the horrible. However, like everyone else I have to learn to work and play within its boundaries. It isn’t easy. Sometimes I have shared images I shouldn’t have. Risqué jokes come to mind. Now though, I am even more diligent about what I share.

When I Googled my Self, the first thing to appear was this:

NB Twitter snip

What does this say about me? Is too playful? Should I reveal my age, or my interests? To be honest, I am not sure how to answer these questions. I participated in a personality profile some time ago; the profile boiled down to a two word phrase: enthusiastic taskmaster. I think my descriptor on Twitter reflects this persona. Work is important to me. Travel is important to me. Writing is important to me—and my enthusiastic attitude is important to me.

Is this the right UVP (unique value position) for me? I don’t know.

I am pondering my UVP as I write this.

My foray into Googling also revealed other things as well. Fortunately for me, my digital footprint is centred on my professional life: work and grad school. Once the initial search was completed, I wasn’t too surprised by what came up on the list. Some of the items that appeared were: LinkedIn, EdTech blog, RDC libguides, Rate My Teacher(s), my first Prezi (on plot development). My personal life in my digital portfolio is much smaller. My Facebook profile didn’t appear right way; I had to really hunt for it. That means my choice in privacy settings are working (for the most part). To some extent the images associated with my name were surprising. A few people in my PLN appeared along side of me. Most of these people are part of my Google+ network or my YouTube channel because of my enrolment in the MET program at Boise State. Better yet, most of my visual images were limited to a head shot, an avatar and a wallpaper print I created for Google+, and a ton of travel images I published via my travel blog, 209postcards.com. In fact, it seems the images were typically dominated by my Google based profiles. I don’t know why but I had never really noticed this Google dominated presence before. This shows me that I have to keep a better eye on my digital footprint. Obviously a plan is needed.

All in all, I am relieved that my digital footprint is so small. It’s good to know that most of my digital decisions have been smart ones. However, with that said, it’s still important for me to determine what my UVP should be. Is my Twitter profile what I want others to see? Does it leave others with the right first impression?

If this snapshot in time doesn’t provide the right impression, I need to change it. And I need to change it now.