Are you being yourself online? Or have you created a persona that won’t be recognized face-to-face? Most of us utilize avatars for our social media accounts that present a reasonable facsimile of what we look like in real life. So if I meet you at a conference or show, I should be able to recognize you physically; but will I recognize the rest of you?
Keeping your online personal real
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many folks in person who I first got to know on social media. For the most part, those I’ve gotten to know offline have turned out to be the people I expected them to be. There have been exceptions; and that’s where it gets tricky understanding what they did to confuse me with their online persona.
Sometimes the surprises are good. The person may have presented only a subset of themselves online. It could be as simple as never swearing online, but face-to-face they let an occasional f-bomb drop. I’m okay with that. I swear too sometimes. Perhaps they just choose to not discuss religion or politics online; but offline, when they know and trust you, they will. Again, another good surprise, it’s just that I get to know more of you once we meet.
Other times the surprises are bad. The sarcastic or snarky personality I saw online and found fun and funny is biting and not so funny in real life. Maybe you’re boisterous and swear like a drunken sailor online, but are meek and quiet when we meet. If it’s shy, I’m okay with that. I was painfully shy myself many years ago. If it’s just that you feel safe and shielded online but won’t be yourself face-to-face, how do I know which self is the real one?
Be the real, authentic and sustainable you
One of the reasons I gravitate to folks who have blogs is that it’s hard to fake who you are day after day and week after week. If you read someone’s posts, you’ll get a pretty good idea what kind of person the author is. I’m not talking about the “About” page either. That’s just the person they aspire to be. I’m talking about posts like this. You can learn a great deal about me by reading this post and you don’t even need to read between the lines.
If you want to swear, talk politics or even religion online, go right ahead. There is no rule against it. If we then meet face-to-face and you refuse to discuss any of those three things, it makes me wonder who you really are. You’ll confront me online with your beliefs but won’t debate them face-to-face over a beer or cup of coffee?
The topics I write about on this site are the same topics I’d be thrilled to discuss over a cup of coffee or a beer. Oftentimes, that’s where the topic ideas resonated. The conversations we have on Twitter shouldn’t look all that different to you than the conversations we have face-to-face. If they do, then I’m doing something wrong.
Be yourself out there and just think of your social media channels as alternatives to the telephone or face-to-face meetings.