I come clean. I have been putting this off for some time. I have only just properly admitted it to myself this week. This isn't easy, but I am addicted to the the camaraderie of Twitter, and I think a whole host of you are on the same boat. I have always engaged in and genuinely enjoyed social networking. It has nearly always been something that I associated with band or event promotion, but Twitter is a phenomenal resource too. I would also confess to quite unabashedly using social networking as a wee source of entertainment by getting to view a steady 'soap' like stream of the lives now lived by people left in my past. You know the sort of thing I mean. Kind of like your Facebook stream of friends is basically your Now magazine fix of gossip except there is a chance that you will perhaps bump in to X, Y or Z at the bar come Friday and be able to talk to them face to face as though you had no idea where they live now or that they got married in Mexico last November with the groom's recently outed lesbian sister as the best man. You do know this however, because you had a good look at all the snaps on facebook. Is it not slightly the case that we are increasingly living in two separate worlds to some extent? I mean there are whole internet worlds in cyber land that you can actually run businesses in and make real money. That is a whole load of fucked up if you ask me. How much do we really think about who is going to see what we post, and perhaps more interestingly how much do we think about how our offhand Twitter and Facebook comments are going to contribute to the formation of the opinions others have of us, despite having never met them in person. I wonder how many people, without their knowledge, have been ruled out of a job as a result of a booze-fuelled weekend in Newcastle that was documented in all its titty bar glory via twitter. It is all too easy for Jim from the accounts department to pass on the snaps in cyberland via his stream with a seemingly harmless retweet, and before you know it the lady interviewing you for promotion on Tuesday morning has dragged a red pen through your CV because she was sent a video of you blotto with an inflatable sheep strapped round your waist, your top off with giant tits drawn upon your chest with permi-marker and a stripper slightly out of focus to your left waving about what seems to be a large black baguette. Oh wait no...It's a giant black dildo. Now thanks to your shared pics and Jim's Re-tweet there is as much chance of you even getting interviewed for the head of Marketing role as there is of me having anything appropriate to say should I ever be unfortunate enough to meet the Queen. I know it is no secret that organisations do try to do a bit of research via the web of prospective candidates, but where is the line to be drawn? I for one, using myself as an example, would have reservations about employing Ally Burton if I was to spend some time building up a profile of myself across the content of my online presence. I come across as a slightly wild, rebellious, opinionated, stubborn, slightly eccentric musician type chap, who is fairly covered in tattoos and loves a party and copious amounts of lager. Perhaps if the odd person reading this 'knows' me predominantly through my onine presence, they will be nodding vigorously whilst reading that description, but that constitutes a very occasion-specific element of my personality. The sort one is likely to be vocal about via social networking, as it is much less likely we will tweet about conscientiously preparing for a presentation at work, or about the times when you go out and just have a few ales as you have got to paint the garden fence the next day, or drive your Mother in Law to her ladies luncheon. We generally tend not to make our mundane, responsible and preparatory activity as commonly public, so are we as a nation gradually working towards one big massive shooting of one's self in the foot, or are we capable of differentiating the one off and not completely re-categorising a fellow Tweeter in the 'two pickled eggs short of a picninc' list because he shared some wild pics? I am not sure that we are capable of it to be honest, and that is rather terrifying. The point I make ultimately, is that I wonder to what extent we are becoming individuals judged and known by our status updates as opposed to our genuine personalities before people have even had a chance to discover them. I mean, we are all obviously selective about our public disclosure of information online, but is the extent of our usage of Twitter and Facebook as a general population now taking us to a point where people are forgetting how to interact in the traditional manner a little? I am in no way claiming that I aim to provide a conclusion one way or the other and I am also not trying to claim that I, as the author of this perusal of contemporary dot-com culture, am in some way exempt. Absolutely not. Essentially, I am speaking from a very personal perspective, as I am moving in to a period in my life that will see me move from the 16-29 into the 30-44 age bracket in less than 18 months. Can I still acceptably (used loosely) tweet about the fact that a certain band or event made me so excited that a little bit of pee came out, whilst perhaps the next day sending an update out to the masses informing of the launch of my new photography website or indeed perhaps linking to a serious article about human rights and Amnesty International in a journalistic capacity for example. Separation of corporate and personal identity on the internet is something I have never given a great deal of consideration to. Can I mention my huge euphoric pain relief following the assembly of a 'log cabin' and then expect future serious content to be taken seriously? Well the short answer to this is simply no, isn't it? It is time to exercise some discretion really. Is it though? I am sure you will have already identified that I am genuinely confused about this, and as much as I use an extreme example that perhaps it is wholly unacceptable to most to publicly declare anyway, I do this in order to provide perfect illustration to an extremely contentious point. What can I say, and what can I not? Who can I say it to, and who can I not? A whole host of super celebs continuously get themselves into bother online, but is it not almost refreshing to see a human rant about something from these characters? If I was to switch to a safe personal persona online as a means to protect the perception and identity of any future potential business, I would be selling out surely? The handful of people that do know of me as a writer, photographer and musician would be wondering what the fuck had happened to me. It makes you wonder if there is a genuine need to have an identity or persona which one alters accordingly for each activity engaged in, and specifically designed to be appropriate for that audience and or market. If it this is required I feel extremely sick. This was all so simple twenty four months ago when I just started blogging and voicing my own personal opinions via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and co. Now I am starting to ask myself if I should be considering some sort of 'duty' of responsibility in my personal presence online. Ultimately it is a tricky point, as my opinions and content don't reach a particularly big audience currently, but what point does it become necessary to stop just ranting out whatever first thought comes to one's mind on the tinterweb... Must go folks! Nature calls....Or should I not say that???