Rethinking Facebook

Private and Personal

I freely admit that up until very recently I answered all translator forum polls regarding Facebook with the comment that I reserve Facebook for friends and family, and use ProZ, LinkedIn and Google+ and, to a certain extent, my blog, for interaction on a professional level.

I had this idea that I could retreat to Facebook and be silly with my many relatives and diverse group of friends in private, so to speak, without clients or fellow translators being disparaging about what they might find there.

I suppose I also harboured the idea that someone – a potential client – may choose another translator over me based on their impressions of me gleaned from Facebook. Does this matter in the large scheme of things? I do not think so. Then I considered the fact that my blog, which is intentionally public, probably reveals more about me – whether intentional or not – than Facebook. I have always been of the “what you see is what you get” persuasion. I have therefore changed my mind in pursuit of a more holistic approach.

What changed my mind

Quite a few things changed my mind in recent months:

  • Using my Facebook account to share translation blogs by other people is frequently the quickest option. The urge to share such things on my Facebook page has sometimes been stronger than the urge to keep my friends and relatives in a separate little bubble. Once you do it once, you have broken through an invisible barrier, and there is no going back.
  • My activities within the local village community (mainly Church-related) mean that I have quite a few Portuguese and bilingual Portuguese-English friends. I have been known to translate the odd Portuguese joke or cartoon for the benefit of my English-speaking friends on FB, which have been shared primarily for the benefit of those who understand Portuguese among my acquaintance.
  • We got a new parish priest last October. He is young, and quite modern, and uses Facebook as a communication tool. If you can’t be friends with your priest, who can you be friends with? I became Facebook friends with my priest. If I ever feel the need to confess anything, I could always simply tag him in on an update or two. Faulty reasoning, perhaps, but it does not alter the fact that I have now laid my Facebook soul bare.
  • I have also laid bits of my soul bare by self-publishing excerpts from my life so far. Under the title of Scatterling, these little stories have been illustrated by a talented cartoonist whose only prior connection to me was that she is a Facebook friend.
(c) Toni Le Busque, tonilebusque.com Published with permission here.
(c) Toni Le Busque, tonilebusque.com
Published with permission here.
  • Friendship with her, and a few others, had me wondering what, really, is the difference between a friend and a Facebook friend? My answer: None. This does not mean that I have lost all powers of discernment. It simply means that if I have a connection with you, you become part of my thoughts. I wonder how you are doing if I don’t hear from you. We interact whatever the situation; sad, euphoric and everything in between. Given my allergy to the creatures, I will still ignore your cat, pictures of your cat, and stories of your cat, but will remember that you have a cat, and will remember and be fond of very many other things about you. So, no difference. A friend is a friend. End of story. People are people, online or offline.
  • I attended the ProZ International Conference in Porto in June last year, and made a few friends in the process. I got to meet some people whom I already held in high regard based on online interactions.  A couple of them have since become friends on Facebook, something which I am happy about.
  • As a result of one particular friendship, I received the very welcome invitation to join a closed (Facebook) group of Portuguese translators. I love this group! It is a very comfortable feeling to be with like-minded individuals. It is also good for me to read comments by people who take care to write well.
  • Facebook, being the sensitive social media platform that it is, suggested another translator group to me, which seems to be primarily in English. It is an open group, which means that the circle of people who read it (and therefore come in contact with my favourite typographical errors) is vastly greater. Does this put me off? No.
  • I joined Twitter just before publishing my little book. I love the intensity of all the twittering translators. What fun! No shortage of reading material.

Marketing

Much has been written in translator circles about translators branding themselves (I like my backside the way it is, thank you), marketing, being entrepreneurial, diversifying and marketing that, putting your best professional foot forward, et cetera. You will find countless tips on all of the above, and more. I read all of these texts with interest.

All well and good, and some people have done this very well. I wish them success in their endeavours.

One of several things I love translating are marketing texts, or tweaking press releases to best effect, editing websites, or doing a mixture of translation and transcreation in the same assignment.  CIients pay for these services, and so they should. I also seem to help friends and relatives a fair bit to knock their entrepreneurial ideas into shape. I am more than happy to give people my honest opinion of their latest design, or video; in fact, you can count on me to be blunt and specific about it, and sometimes helpful.

The thing is, when it comes to myself, I am not sure I want to parade under the banner of a unique selling proposition (USP to those who like trending acronyms). Life, and my work which takes up a large part of my life, is too grand to be boxed in thus. How can I confine myself to one line when I have three sources languages, and my strengths as regards subject fields in each language pair are different? How can I separate myself from my work? It would be a pity to break up a good, functioning, integrated unit simply to conform to a certain way of thinking, wouldn’t it? It would be disintegration of a kind which would very likely make me unhappy and less productive.

The plan

My plan does involve restructuring my blog so that it includes my website. Yes, that is correct. It is my intention within six months to have restructured my blog. My blog will have a website section. This will mean that I will have no use for a website with a blog section. This does not mean that blogging will become my main activity. Oh no! I fully intend to be kept very busy translating!

It means that the blog + website structure is the profile I am most comfortable with. You see, I am an ordinary person with a life, who likes blogging, and a good many other things. I am an ordinary person who happens to be a good translator. I also happen to enjoy interacting with other translators about all aspects of translation, but primarily about translation itself. If doing so means revealing a little more of the real me to the real world via Facebook or any other means, then so be it.

Let me see how it goes. As always, I hope to get it wright on the button.

Allison
@wrightbutton

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