In the days of print, the news section was news and the opinion section was opinion. The only grey area was the physical paper that was distributed. Now, the grey has flooded the online world of blogging and reporting. There is this unspoken fine line between news and opinion that blurred dramatically when anyone could post online and call it “news.” This line, however, is not the one to which I am referring.
As a journalism student, I am talking about the fine line between the professional world and what I like to call the goof-ball world. In the professional world, I would use my Twitter account to aggregate interesting news stories and share witty commentary on a piece or bit of information. My Facebook would consist of my published work, cheers for my successful colleagues, and one or two photos of the office, my dog, or my family. In the goof-ball world, I am free to be a twenty-year-old in college. I can post complaints about professors, photos of wild parties and curse like a trucker. On Twitter, I can post pictures of my outfit, everything I eat and every thought I have walking from my dorm room to the dining hall. I can retweet daily Virgo horoscopes and sappy love quotes without a second thought.
But what can I post as a journalism student? Should I rip off the bandage now and go full out professional? Or do I have time to wean myself off those funny cat memes? The more my professors tell me to bite the bullet and bid adeu to #damnitstrue and #sh*tcollegekidssay, the more I find myself stumbling upon these pages.
The default answer is to have two of everything: one professional and one personal. In theory, this is the perfect solution and I won’t have to delete half of my facebook and twitter posts the day after graduation. Let’s think about this for a second though: how much time do I devote to social media? The answer is probably too much—meaning if I had to worry about two of everything, I might as well quit school and e-socialize 24 hours per day.
I can hear my grandmother’s complaints already. “What’s wrong with this generation? You’re always typing or texting or flying something.” (Flying = tweeting…at least she tries to keep up). The older generations complain that I’m logged in too much and my niche of future journalists would write me off as someone who doesn’t take my future seriously. Is there a solution to this other than me sitting here panicking about not pleasing everyone?!
Oh, wait, being a journalist isn’t about pleasing everyone. It’s about writing what you know. Here’s what I know:
- I take the future seriously, but I want to stay a kid for as long as possible.
- I know the e-golden rule: don’t post anything online that could ultimately bite you in the behind later.
- Social media thrives on unique voices. Voices that people can identify with, disagree with, laugh at, or simply hear.
I guess that’s my answer. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope to balance between journalist-wannabe and regular college kid. And if my future employers don’t like it—I’ll wait to change until after I toss my graduation cap.