Inspired at least in part by the phrase “new contacts or new business opportunities” in the description of the currency of personal learning networks, I did something this week that I’ve meant to get around to for a long time: I created a separate Facebook profile for myself as a lactation consultant.
At the very least, it gave me a great excuse to use this photo I took near Shanghai in 2012.
My goals in taking this step include:
1. developing an online presence specific to my role as a lactation professional — I will post and comment under this identity only on matters that more or less directly relate to breastfeeding support and advocacy;
2. reducing some of my “context collapse” on Facebook by separating my lactation-world network from my personal/political/academic network — my lactation colleagues don’t necessarily need to know what I think about other topics I might be discussing under my primary profile;
3. allowing myself to stay in touch with clients from my private practice, by friending them as my IBCLC profile (something I would not do otherwise — I’ve long had a policy not to “friend” the mothers I help breastfeed, lest my political stances, religious beliefs, or other aspects of my personal identity alienate them and become a barrier to their accessing breastfeeding support from me in the future.) It was a recent “friend” request from a new client that also led me to establish this new profile now.
4. last, not least, and perhaps most pertinent to this week’s topic, I suspect that using a profile with my IBCLC credential prominently visible will lend me a little more credibility in Facebook groups focused on breastfeeding … and may aid me in cultivating a professional network that crosses more boundaries than my personal profile’s network can do now, with algorithms that obviously tilt towards the echo chamber effect.
Of course, Facebook working as it does, after about 24 hours of existence, my new profile’s 37 “friends” include precisely two people with whom I wasn’t already Facebook friends under my main profile. I will try to connect with more new-to-me people with my IBCLC profile, and I’m considering pruning some friends from my main profile, if we rarely interact on non-breastfeeding topics. But this will take time and energy to implement.
I haven’t yet taken the next step to expand this IBCLC-specfic persona onto Twitter, but it’s a tempting prospect (see my comment last week that I need to curate my Twitter follows more mindfully to have any hope of coherent discussion there), and hopefully I will get around to doing that soon.