…..mine and yours, and then the truth.
We live in unprecedented times, in so very many ways. Here are my thoughts on my journey exploring who I am in the public sphere, what that means for my life, for my work and my family.
Have you ever seen any of those click-bait friendly lists, preying on nostalgia to lure you to try out your ad-blocker’s defences?
We look at our past through somewhat rose-tinted glasses, which can be a blessing, but can also miss the point of learning from our own mistakes. But what about those mistakes that we never had the chance to make?
A fairly convoluted statement perhaps, so let’s take a little wisdom from Mr. Feeny:
I have children who are living in a time of immense change that is so different to that of my own childhood.
They’ll never know the mad rush to find a rewritable VHS tape to record my favourite shows, and the pain that came when the schedule changed. The pain of someone walking past the NES and it crashing, knowing all progress on Super Mario Bros. would be lost. What about having to order your food at McDonald’s by having to talk to an actual person? Madness!
The same can be said of some of our colleagues, fresh from University or College. We don’t live in the same world that we did back then.
So where am I actually heading?
The wonderful world of social media.
Who are you on social media? Are you a different version of you on different platforms? Do you troll? Have you been trolled, or worse bullied? Is the life you portray a ficticious or aspirational one?
I am no one to judge here, but there is more wisdom to be gleaned from Mr. Feeny:
Mr. Feeny is very true that we shouldn’t be motivated by others’ perception of ourselves, but we need to be careful that we are savvy enough to ensure that we are respectful and mindful of others when we do post publicly.
Perhaps, though, each of us also needs to think more carefully when we do use social media actively, about what we are trying to say and why – and how the curation of our online personas can contribute to this age of envy in which we live. When I was about to post on Facebook about some good career-related news recently, my husband asked me why I wanted to do that. I did not feel comfortable answering him, because the truth is it was out of vanity. Because I wanted the likes, the messages of congratulations, and perhaps, if I am brutally honest, I wanted others to know that I was doing well. I felt ashamed. There is nothing like an overly perceptive spouse to prick one’s ego.
I have an ego, I like to share good things and I am more inclined to do so than negatives. I actively avoid commenting on areas of conflict and divisive topics, for the most part, as I find those areas toxic black holes where I almost never see positives and it just becomes car crash viewing for the social media voyeurs.
Why am I writing this post on a predominantly testing blog?
I wrote in my post about staying relevant:
It goes without saying that I am representing myself and there is an obvious association made with my employers. The representation of myself on social media and via blogs can be supremely advantageous for both parties, but can also be a deal breaker, not only with current employers, but any potential future employers.
For that reason, I may be quirky sometimes (for want of a better word), but I try to be mindful of the reception that could be greeted by anything I may post online. This is something that I have become more conscious of since the early days of my social media existence, but worth bearing in mind which posts are publicly viewable.
I would encourage anyone new to the tech world to actively engage in social media, follow the heck out of people who touch on topics you are interested in. Seek balanced views and not just those that support your own, approach with pragmatism and know your limits.
I was recently promoted to Software Test Manager, I have an implied responsibility to my wonderful team to be an example and also be available to support them, after all an unavailable manager, coach or mentor isn’t exactly one who is particularly useful.
We have been exploring the best way to communicate internally at work, and we all have preferences, we will communicate differently and so this journey will be one in which we will learn new good practices and boundaries.
Ali Hill‘s awesome talk at TestBash Brighton in 2019 covers the struggles that he had with the connected work life.
At my office, our Mental Health First Aid team showed the talk in a lunchtime session and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. It’s a conversation that we need to have.
I don’t know how I will approach this topic with my children when they enter the social media arena, and truth be told, I’m terrified of it happening. I do hope that I can be a good example, but also that I have the restraint to not dictate to them how they should be engaging with these things.
As for my colleagues, friends and any other wonderful people who have made it to the bottom of this post, my commitment to you is to try and be engaging and always respectful, I promise to no longer post the lyrics to Pearl Harbor from Team America: World Police anymore on Facebook.
I will actively seek accountability, it’s why I started Testing Peers with some wonderful testers.