Recently, I have been quite irritated by talks of authenticity, professionalism and transparency relating to my online presence and social media. There are ideas of neoliberalism taking over, manifesting an unhealthy environment of competitiveness within our industry with self-branding being a sport for creative employers. Some try to communicate that to get a job, to be successful or even to stand out, we as students need to keep our social media ‘professional.’
Fuck being professional I want to have fun.
The thing about the world that we live in right now is that people will stalk your profile, its just a common practice among employers, academics and people (myself included lol I see what you’re up to on the daily Susan). I don’t care if you stalk me (@krischristou on twitter btw) and I couldn’t give a damn if you judge me for what I post. What I have a problem with is people telling me that to get a job in the industry I want to, I have to look a certain way, act a certain way and essentially appear a certain way on social media. One thing I do not like to do is conform because bitch I am fabulous and nobody’s going to take that away from me.
This rant has been sparked by my university. Some people have begun mentioning (as I am in my final years of university) the idea of self-branding in a ‘positive’ way. Meaning, to look ‘professional’ and ‘polished.’
Of course I understand this paradigm of thinking. Brands have certain standards that they would like to represent them. It is important for a brand to find employees that match their own goals, values and mission. My trashy style of writing mixed with my colourful language, outrageous opinions, political statements and bright drunken photos on social media may not be their cup of tea.
If it isn’t then why should I want to work there. In my ideal work-space, I am surrounded by like-minded individuals who wont judge me for what I post online. I understand that this is like searching for a utopia in a garbage dump but hear me out. I don’t want to work somewhere that does not appreciate my uniqueness, my authenticity and my value as a skilled individual.
I hate this idea of ME as a professional having no choice in how I represent myself. I’m not going to conform to someone else’s values or goals if I don’t agree with them, I’m sure as hell not going to change who I am as an individual to land a job. An alignment not only of workplace values, but personal values when finding employment is extremely important. I don’t only want to be successful, I want to find happiness in what I do.
I also don’t agree with this age of ‘self-branding‘ and the fabrication of ones self and social media persona. I can see why people do create a facade of themselves for employers but this diminishes a persons value, creativity and reliability as a human.
If we do conform to a ‘professional’ and ‘somewhat’ authentic way of thinking (not everyone gets drunk every weekend like Kris), everyone will appear the same, become boring and really where would that get us in a CREATIVE INDUSTRY. It is so difficult now for us to land jobs due to this culture of perfection that is sweeping the professional world and I’ve just about had enough of people telling me to watch what I post online.
What would an employer want. One of the same professional looking social media accounts? Or one that doesn’t hold back with their values and thoughts, that puts everything into what they see is right, who is motivated, who is unique! What are they going to be able to see your values and motivations are if you’re just wearing a suit and tie, a nice dress or blouse and have the ‘Business Society’ as one of your two interests (UniBar is the other interest usually but that’s besides the point!).
To become noticed, we must embrace our insecurities, our vulnerabilities and OURSELVES. EMBRACE WHO WE ARE AS INDIVIDUALS! Post that picture of you with a cocktail, you at a video games night, you partying with your family! Let loose! Because if we become too intoxicated with this idea of perfection in our workplaces and industry, then what truly is perfect?
A quote from Personal Branding for Dummies confused me quite a bit.
“Personal branding is about expressing your authentic self by allowing you to be the person you are meant to be” (Personal Branding For Dummies – 2012 – Chriton)
Is this referring to our ideal versions of ourselves? What we are meant to be? What companies want us to be? It sounds like the latter. It’s an extremely derogatory process whereby we craft a persona to impress those above us. Grovelling at their feet for employment. The sad part is that for some of us this isn’t an option. Jobs are scarce and those who adapt will find employment and get the job. It’s a sad but somewhat true cycle.
However, I don’t want to worry about my persona or online presence for the sake of a job that I don’t even have yet, that may not exist yet. I am going to continue to use my presence online as 98% authentic me with only minor details edited out like what I really had for lunch (a large packet of Doritos) and how long I really went to the gym for (i didn’t). Social media was made for entertainment, to communicate, to share, not to be edited and curated to the point of becoming a business orientated environment, that’s what LinkedIn is for.
This type of culture is manipulating graduates into thinking that we are never good enough for a position until someone validates our hard work. Someone either validates our degree, experience (such as internships, work, freelancing, porfolio) and now our social media presence. I will not be lead to believe that I am nothing less than 100/100 because I work my fucking ass off when I am passionate about something.
Okay I’m going to finish on a few points:
- It is true to say that uni is attempting to prepare us for the workforce and professional ways of life, however I’m a non conformist and fuck being normal because in no fucking way is Kris Christou a normal human being.
- We have no private lives anymore, it feels a bit like stalking except less creepy and usually by a 55 year old man at a desk in a suit. With our lives being valued like this, with our presences, social lives and personal lives being used as a form of self promotion, how are we supposed to live?
- Every like, comment and share is like a measurement of success in life. That’s what is chilling about the future.
- I’m not saying that being professional is a bad thing. It’s awesome, but we somewhat lose sight of who we are as humans at some point. This leads on to an empathy vs efficiency debate.
- I am not nameless among the many graduates from my degree, my name is Kris. I am an individual.
“One can excel, one can gain reputation… but one does so always as a being who dwells within a larger community and its norms. The community is not a spectre haunting the individual, nor is the workforce a spectre haunting the labourer.” Christine Harold (2013)