Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Popeye Principle, or The Joys of Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinning, and Plussing Whatever I Want

I have a confession to make: I'm a random tweeter. On Twitter, I talk about comic books. I talk about cats (a lot). I talk about chocolate and music and science fiction television shows with cult-like followings. I also talk about higher education, the publishing industry, and libraries. That's the point of Twitter, in my mind: to talk about the things you care about. (For the record, I'm just as varied on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.) I care about my career, but it's not all I am. I think of this as the Popeye Principle, because I am what I am. And I refuse to filter what I say on social networking sites out of fear of some mythical future employer.

Let me say this again: You cannot live your life worrying about what future employers may or may not think about you based on your Twitter stream, your Facebook page, your Pinterest boards, etc.

Joe Hardenbrook wrote a wonderful (and popular) guest post for my blog about how you need to look at future employers to see whether or not they'll be a good fit, and the Popeye Principle is based on a similar philosophy. Perhaps someone will judge me as unfit for a job because of an off-color tweet, or think me too political because of a blog post, or worry about my sanity because of my current obsession for all things Doctor Who. If that happens, then so be it. "Life's too short," is a cliché because it's true. If someone doesn't want to hire me because of my eclectic interests, then why would I want to work for them?

If you don't believe me, then believe Randall Munroe of xkcd. He explained the Popeye Principle (although by a different name) better than I could ever imagine doing it.


So what do you think? Am I wrong? Right? Why?


  1. I agree totally and absolutely! Life is to short, and it is impossible to guess beforehand what a future employer might object to. So either you just stop contributing and shut your mouth or you contribute to the best of your ability and have as much fun as possible while you are at it.

    I have worked in libraries for over 25 years, and the fun stuff usually happens when I open my big mouth and say something that offends somebody, but that somebody else likes and even offers me a job :-)

    To quote my favorite H2G2 character:

    Slartibartfast: Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, "Hang the sense of it," and keep yourself busy. I'd much rather be happy than right any day.

  2. Love this!

    I went through the phase of trying to have two Facebook accounts (personal and professional), then locked my Twitter to be safe. However, all that has gone by the wayside when I realized that if my employer respects this tattooed, pierced, unicorn knee-sock wearing librarian, then I respect them. Plus I will treat them with that respect online, but still be me.

  3. I figure there's something offensive or just off about everybody, which is part of the fun of meeting new people. As a guy with a blood disease, I have no tattoos, no piercings, and no body modifications. Still, I know there are people out there who wouldn't be half as outraged about those things as they would my occasional Twitter post about atheism, bisexuality, or cyberpunk philosophy.

    Like Kristi I tried the two account thing, personal and work. The thing is, I'm so involved with libraries and library work that trying to separate personal life from work is impossible for me.

  4. Having two Facebooks didn't even last a week. Having two Twitter accounts lasted for a while.. but it was so much work! I eventually gave up on that and act more or less like myself on whatever social media I'm using. I filter a little, more on the principle of "might this be interesting to anyone besides me?" than on propriety, but not much. I don't say bad things about coworkers, or about my workplace, and I don't ever reveal my home address or phone number; other than that, I'm more or less an open book online.

  5. there's too much of my history that's been out there for way too long to even make this a consideration. some of us pre-date the search engine and the web. :)

    i figure that i should make it so there are at least as many reasons (on the internet) to hire me as to avoid me.