A few months back, on a mentoring session with the Human Resources Director in Microsoft Indonesia, she shared a great tip in how we can manage our public branding and our personal social life by compartmentalizing our social media. For me, this relates to social media policies that companies usually have ( Here’s 5 terrific examples of companies doing this ). For simplicity purposes, social media policy means guideline that directs us in what we can or cannot post in our social media.

In the internet, there floats an image of a Japanese proverb, that says “The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.”. Although after some research I found that this is not actually a Japanese proverb and is derived from somewhere else, the phrase’s meaning is still true.

Imagine, in the world, you have many titles. For me, I’m a son, an advisor, a startup cofounder, a traveller, a watch enthusiast, and I can act differently depending on which role I am currently performing. Imagine a man who’s a manager, a father, and a husband. He can be stern and rather ruthless in the office, gentle to his kids, and romantic with his wife.

The same situation applies to our social media. Currently the popular social media in Indonesia from my point of view is Instagram, Facebook, Path and LinkedIn. Twitter and Tumblr is not really prevalent in my circle. But we need to be able to answer 2 questions:
1. Who is able to see what I share in this social media?
2. Am I sharing appropriate things for the people that sees what I share?

Here’s a good example from 2009, a woman got sacked because she insulted her boss on Facebook.

This is even more important in Indonesia where in the law, there is law against insulting people (below).

“(1) Barang siapa sengaja menyerang kehormatan atau nama baik seseorang dengan menuduhkan sesuatu hal, yang maksudnya terang supaya hal itu diketahui umum, diancam karena pencemaran dengan pidana penjara paling lama sembilan bulan atau pidana denda paling banyak empat ribu lima ratus rupiah.” — Pasal 310, KUHP, Bab XVI

Free translation : “Anyone who intentionally attack someone’s honor or reputation by alleging something, with intention so it is generally known, can be sued on the grounds of defamation with a maximum imprisonment of nine months or a maximum fine of four thousand five hundred rupiah”

Taking the legality issue aside, even if the woman is not fired, it’s easy to imagine that her boss will have a negative view of her which will impact her job and her performance evaluation.

Now how do you compartmentalize and define your social media policy?

1. Decide which social media you will be using

First, we need to decide on which social media we will want to be active in. This includes thinking and checking with your friends and colleagues use so you won’t fall victim to be the only one that uses a particular social media.
For me : LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

2. Decide which social media will be intended for who

Then we need to review our current social media settings, friends, likes and shares (if you already have the social media). From there, you can decide on who those content is appropriate for. After that, think of who do you want to see your particular social medias.
For me:
Facebook is for people who I’ve already met and I’m interested be friend with
LinkedIn is for my professional relationships
Instagram is for public.

3. Adjust the visibility of the social media accordingly

After we know who the social media is intended for, we can now adjust our settings to ensure what we posts there will be appropriate for the audience. For existing social media, we can adjust the visibility of our content en masse, here’s the how-to for facebook posts. But for new social media, this is much easier as you start with a clean slate.
For me:
Limiting visibility of old posts in facebook from public
Reviewing my linkedin privacy settings
Reviewing my instagram privacy settings

4. Decide what kind of content that you want to share

Here is the point where you define your personal social media policy in a more actionable pointers. In this step, you need to decide what you would like the audience in that particular social media to see. This relates to the image you want to portray in that environment, and how free you can be in the future on posts.
For me:
Facebook is for personal sharing and news, interests
LinkedIn is for news, articles, and content I write professionally
Instagram is for pictures I don’t mind anyone to see

On all social medias, I refrain from posting things of political nature.

5. Adjust your past contents to reflect

The previous step can help a lot in going forward, but for posts and shares in the past, we might need to adjust or even delete our old posts so it adheres to our personal social media policy. I’m sure I’m not the only one that is embarrassed by posts from 7 years ago.

All in all, social media is a great technology that is so pervasive in our daily and work life that we need to be careful in using. One of the best way to ensure we stay consistent is to compartmentalize our own social media and to have our own social media policy.

2 months ago, when I was in a gas station, a motorcycle crashed into an angkot (minibus) and the lady motorcycle driver got thrown off around 3 meters to the side from the impact and the minibus’ front bumper fell. The surprise caused me to let my phone slip my hand, fell to the ground, and lo, the gorilla glass cracked half the screen. Thankfully, the phone still worked, the touch was still responsive, it’s just a bit ugly to look at. (From what I saw when I left the scene, the lady driver was okay, a bit shaken, probably some scratches, but she already gained conciousness and recovering).

3 days ago, I finally found the time to turn in my phone for screen replacement. I put the phone in the shop in the morning, and I got it back late at night. The whole day I went without a phone, I still had a couple of meetings, 1 of which I didn’t know where it was, so I had to check the maps first before I leave the phone, memorize it, and tell my colleagues that I won’t have my phone for the day, but don’t worry, I will be on my meetings on time, please share with me the exact meeting spot.

During the past 2 months, the thing that has been holding me back from actually turning my phone in for repair was generally one of these few questions
“What if there’s an emergency?”
“What if someone important is looking for me?”
“What if someone got offended because I don’t reply quickly?”
“What if there’s a problem in my team and I don’t know until it’s too late?”

And more and more “What if”s

Not to mention I was also resistant because I was afraid of being bored out of my mind for the whole day, which can be summed as what people are saying as “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out).

During the ride to the first meeting, I was anxious, and sometimes shocked that I realize I have an empty pocket where my phone usually is. Then I had no GPS, so I have to rely on good old memory and instinct to figure out a good route to go to the meeting spot, and I needed to ask a few people inside the building before I got pointed into the right direction of the meeting.

But during the meeting and through the rest of the day, I realized something extraordinary.

1. I was laser focused

Without my phone, I cannot be distracted by it and I was forced to be in the moment. It also helped my driving as there’s no buzzing, and no beeps from a phone to distract me from what’s in front of me.

2. I was calm and engaged

It’s surprising how tranquil it is without the constant buzzing and lit up screen. There’s no pressure on constantly taking my phone out of my pocket and checking it for notifications. And not to mention, my pocket feels very light!

3. At the end of the day, it was okay to reply to all the messages, notifications, and emails at night / the next day(if it’s for work)
No one disses me, mad at me, or got offended because I didn’t reply quickly. I was also able to gather my thoughts and reply better than if I had replied instantly in the first place.

You should try turning off your phone for a day if:

  • You need to focus on something
  • You want to figure out something about yourself
  • You need to organize your thoughts

In all 3 cases, turning off your phone gives you time to be alone with your thoughts and you can slowly sort it out at your own pace. The important point that needs to be made is that if you go without a phone for a day, you definitely need to tell people you usually interact with everyday (like your work team), and anyone you plan to meet or follow up something with that day.

To summarize, although it will make you anxious at first to go a day without your phone, you will feel happier, and I bet you will find out something new about yourself at the end of it. Personally I will definitely do it again, but next time, I hope it will be on purpose, not because I had to turn my phone in for repair again.