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Our nature is to live in small communities. For all of history up until the last hundred or so years, we knew the people around us fairly well. We knew what they did at work and what they did at home. We did business with friends, relatives, and other people in the village. Then we stopped. Instead of living near the people we grew up with, we live in different communities entirely. We commute to yet another community for work. In the process, we’ve built home lives and work lives. We re-invent ourselves two or three times a day now.
Along comes social software. For technical people, It started with blogs. Some of us use ours to talk about home, and some about work or a hobby. Some of us mix it up. That feels very strange at first – and that’s where it gets interesting. Facebook accelerates the process for those less technically inclined. Suddenly our coworkers know about our families. Our kids can see how we interact with our friends and our coworkers. The differences are stronger for some than for others. I’ve you’ve got a facebook page and a personal blog the differences between your work and home self is probably less than most. You spend less time pretending and more time just being.
If you stick with facebook long enough, you’ll find there’s a sort of critical-mass moment where your connections combine. Think of separate drops of mercury on the counter suddenly contacting each other and becoming one larger drop. That attracts more drops like gravity and pretty quickly all your disparate communities merge. Does that make you uncomfortable, or are you ready to rejoin the village?
Rejoining the village means the people you do business with know about your home life. It means the people you hang out with have a sense for what you do. It also means if you treat someone badly at work, you can’t isolate it to work. You have to start being committed to being the same person all the time. Its going to be harder for some people than for others – are you ready?
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