I have a very public life. I’m in the media regularly. I speak about mental health and my very personal journey in this as an ambassador for R U Ok? A lot of people call me brave. A lot of people tell me how they could ‘never’ do what I do. The reality is I’m an extremely private person, for everything that you see on the outside there is a good 98% of my life you have no knowledge about. You won’t find me gushing about my partner online, we don’t do selfies of us being cute and smoochy, most who follow my feed would barely know if I’m dating a man or a woman and in fact when I started dating again after losing a loved one to a motor vehicle accident I very specifically found a partner who equally understood there is an ‘online/media’ Ming and there is a ‘private/hermit’ Ming – both of them are authentically me, there’s no forgery or fakery, just a duality that I’ve found few understand.
In today’s digital age, having a public presence is increasingly important for personal branding, professional opportunities, and social connections. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between maintaining a strong online presence and safeguarding your privacy. With the right strategies and mindful practices, you can navigate the online world while protecting your personal information and keeping control over your digital footprint. I want to explore some of these techniques to have a public presence while still maintaining privacy online.
Define Your Boundaries:
Before stepping into the realm of public presence, it’s essential to define your boundaries and determine what aspects of your personal life you want to keep private. Social Media has created this space where most people run full pelt into the Internet without boundaries or considerations, where I believe Social Media is like a media feed in its own right. Consider what information you are comfortable sharing and what you prefer to keep confidential. Having a clear understanding of your limits will help you make informed decisions about your online activities. I have always said that if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of something you’ve said or done being printed onto a large billboard over the freeway it probably doesn’t need to be on the Internet.
Everyone has a different version of this, do what is comfortable for you.
Be Mindful of Personal Information
This one might seem obvious but be cautious about the personal information you share online, even your relationships with your family, my mother and I have a very public entanglement online, thankfully she’s an awesome person and is willing to learn as much as she does about cyber security but there are often people who will try to friend me in order to take advantage of her being more senior in years (she’s not as susceptible to scams as some might think). Avoid disclosing sensitive details such as your home address, phone number, financial information, the school emblem on your kid’s school uniform… or any other data that could be misused, take a moment to hide your year of birth on all your social media platforms.
Regularly Monitor Your Digital Footprint
Google Alerts are your friend and if you are already in the media it’s a useful tool to get notified about a piece you might have contributed to months ago or when someone steals something you said in one article and quotes you without context in an unauthorised piece. (This has happened to me and you do have the right to query and push back).
Be Teachable About Privacy
I mean, be teachable about everything, but specifically in this case about privacy practices, security threats and social media policies. I’m well-known within my community for regularly reading the policies of social media platforms. These companies owe you nothing. You owe it to yourself to know where and how your information is being used and choose to engage or disengage.