Straddling two worlds: The new work reality

Self-Destruction WeinerI recently introduced a real-world colleague as someone “I met on twitter.” When I mentioned that to another person, who spends very little time on social media, she said, “With the Weiner scandal you better watch what you say.” Well, with all due respect ma’am, not exactly. You see, had Weiner understood the reality of twitter and its broadcast and sharing capabilities, perhaps the New York congressman would not be in the hot water he finds himself in today. The point is, my public relations and marketing work world is now located, for the most part, online. As CK Kerley said when I interviewed her in Knoxville in April, we now live in two worlds at all times. I have many colleagues whom I’ve met only online. Yet we share fabulous information regularly and have, in many cases, become friends. This TNW article highlighting the future of social media brings out that point. It links to the fantastic Amsterdam keynote by social media evangelist Robert Scoble that is well worth watching. It covers our dual world life, including increasing Klout scores and buying stock in others. How does your life now straddle two worlds?


  • Sue Painter says:

    So true, if you use social media you ARE transparent!

  • Jeff Brunson says:

    The recent passing of our friend Kathryn Tucker Windham has brightly brought to my consciousness that ‘straddle’ may not accurately describe my life in the two worlds. ‘Immersed’ may be more accurate. Connecting and commuicating around Kathryn’s death was about her friends being very human … and we used technology to do this. There has been a lot of sharing about her impact on our collective and individual lives. I spent all day Monday wrtiing and sharing about her impact on my life.

    So, yes … Straddling (or being immersed) two worlds is not just a work reality; it is a life reality. And I like it.

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks so much for this touching example Jeff. I am sorry for the loss of your beloved storytelling friend but glad you were able to communicate on multi levels to her friends and fans.

  • This is such a poignant truth Mary Ellen – it is indeed a strange world or ‘worlds’ we now live in – the real test for people is how authentic and real they are in both worlds or do they play roles that they think others expect.
    I often think about how strange and foreign this would all seem to our great grandparents who really only knew the value of smaller circles of face to face personal relationships.

    • maryellen says:

      Heidi, your comment reminds me of the book “Bowling Alone.” Yes, the days of our grandparents were very different times in terms of communications.

    • David Ford says:

      Heidi I think you bring up a very important issue concerning identity in these two worlds. The real challenge, as you said, is maintaining authenticity in both worlds. Its like a child wearing a mask to a Halloween party. There is this nagging desire to do things differently in your new discovered anonymity. But as we have seen so often, the mask always comes off.

      • maryellen says:

        David, you are so correct that the mask always comes off online. I have found that “it is a small world” is a very true statement and the online world makes it even smaller!

  • Linda Pucci says:

    I don’t mind straddling the two worlds at all, except struggle with confining myself to 140 characters.

  • Judy Gombita says:

    I absolutely adore how the online world has broadened my networking abilities, not just geographically but also into different disciplines (i.e., via Twitter chats such as #hbrchat and #kaizenblog).

    One thing I am cautiously pragmatic about, though, is the staying power of these alliances or friendships for the long-term. I think *some* will sustain, but suspect the majority are more transitory.

    I am speaking of personal, not so much business, relationships here.

    Hoping the odds are in *our* favo(u)r, Mel, for remaining in touch.

    Judy (who likes her tea hot)

    • maryellen says:

      Judy, I actually had our online friendship in mind as I wrote that blog post. I absolutely believe that we will have tea together at some point in the future. Here’s hoping!

  • I tell people that Twitter is public texting … that seems to drive it home. One thing to think about all the apps and activity from the video – does any of this help increase your bottom line or help you save time? That’s how you can measure where or how to spend your time, and as we know time is money.

  • So true, Mary Ellen. It is essential to be authentic no matter what. Interacting with a fake person online is just as icky as dealing with a fake person at a networking event. Love the reminder.

  • I am thankful for the two worlds because I’ve been able to connect and reconnect with so many more people than most people ever thought was possible. Honestly, I view it more like one world that is less dependent on snail mail. It’s like I have a lot of high-tech “pen pals”. 😉

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