Growing Up Online…

No, I didn’t look like this when I was younger, sadly. I was far fatter.

Yes readers, it’s time for my annual (or monthly) blog post about how blogging changes you, and how the theme of your blog changes with you.

This post was sparked by a conversation I had with Mr Punk Planning himself; we had a really interesting discussion about blogging, life, the universe, mid 90’s Premiership footballers, setsquares, and everything in between.

I left the conversation thanking God I hadn’t started blogging when I was much younger. Any self-regulatory skills I may have now weren’t really all there then. My generation is the first one where we have everything documented, tagged, written about and generally publicised. Citizen journalism, it seems to me, leaves you nowhere to hide.

Also, I really don’t like the notion of a ‘Plannersphere Mafia’ either, where if you don’t blog you aren’t good at your job, or you have nothing to say – some people just value their personal and professional privacy more than others, which is fine. Easy to understand as well, when blogging demolishes the public/private debate – the whole world can peer in if they wish.

And I found that I’m more divided than I thought on the topic of blogging. On the one hand I like the fact that I can write my point of view, meet with incredibly intelligent thinkers either virtually or in real life, and hell, get a job in part due to what I write here (the latter is bloody great, in fact), but, being pessimistic for a moment, it means I have nowhere to run. Thank goodness I work in advertising, where wearing silly Wall St inspired fancy dress is positively encouraged (especially in some modern day agency briefings, it would seem).

I sometimes resent people being able to learn about me and how my thinking has evolved – after all, this is just a storage box for thinking, which in itself is continually changing – there’s the worry that someone will read something I’ve written in mid-2006 and take it as read that I still think the same (I’ve finally dropped the notion that the world is flat, for example).

Perhaps I should add more of a disclaimer before people enter the site? Heh. No, I’ll continue to blog and write about things I enjoy and find interesting.

Going forward from the conversation I had with Charles, I had a rude awakening the other day about how if someone is one of my Facebook friends, they can find out all sorts of things. It happened when someone added me (don’t worry, my privacy settings are set appropriately) who I didn’t know. Not thinking about it, I accepted their invitation. Happily, it was a name I knew (lost in the mists of time), but it might not have been – it could have been a spammer or someone else.

It got me thinking to be careful who I add and who I don’t. The danger is that you get carried away with being super-social and lose sight of your personal security, and personality in general – ie, you become so stretched that you lose sight of your core values.

I don’t mind people knowing what I’m doing, but sometimes it’s nice to make mistakes in private. And I’m sure I’ll make one or two (or a hatful) as I continue to grow up, both personally and professionally. Over-use of Twitter seems to be one at the moment – it’s the social equivalent of comfort eating for me.

You see, my blog isn’t quite a warts and all expose of what I did on a Sunday, nor a highly polished, professional manifesto or online CV. It attempted to be the latter in the beginning, but I realised that it’s just not human, or honest.

Additionally, I’m not a planning director, nor am I attempting to solve the industry’s problems with this blog. I’m just projecting a series of ever changing thoughts and ideas, throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Some things re-emerge over time, but by and large, it’s what I’ve just thought, off the top of my head (it’s also why it’s not that well written, to be honest).

All this bloggery/self promotion/communication is what it is. And it’s nice to show on the blog/facebook/twitter that I am a ‘real’ person away from the day job, even if I might talk too much sometimes.

Indeed, it’ll be fascinating to imagine what business is general will be like in the next twenty years, with the rise of these people who’ve gone through a similar process to me. Personally, I think those who are willing to self publish will help push the boundaries of what’s out there, and those who don’t will be a little bit more reluctant to early-adopt newer things. Neither is bad, it must be stressed again. Interestingly, all the bloggers that I’ve met, without question, are keen to use technology to improve the world, and use every form of communication to help widen their knowledge.

Charles nails it here when he says that “there really is no better social research than socialising.” And I’ve got to agree. It’s helped me grow up a lot in the last year and a bit.