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Saturday, April 20, 2013


Who are you?

The internet and social media has made it possible for people to have close friends thousands of miles away. It’s also provided a means to get to know people you might never really meet in real life. But with Facebook, and Twitter, and Linkedin, and Blogger, and Wordpress, and … the thousands of other social networking platforms that exist, how do you know which one is best. I mean, are you really the person you are on Facebook? Should people expect you to be the person you seem to be on Twitter?

I don’t know.

For me, I find I really over-think posts on social networking sites. I filter, and filter, and question if what I’m about to tweet, post, share… etc is something that will come back and bite me one day.  For every post I make, I probably write 25 and delete them, even though they're probably just fine. As a result, I likely come across rather stiff on certain sites.

But it got me thinking about the people I follow,  and if my opinion of them is based on fact of fiction... or even just filtered fact. Do I know enough to have an opinion of them? I started thinking about the sites I'm on, and if people would know me from those sites.

I’ve reached a conclusion. There are three sites where I am most myself, and I think the same three might apply to others too.

There are no status updates. It’s just a pinup board of things you’re interested in. My boards show my interests b/c I made each board for myself. I started looking at my friends and family boards and I saw that they too are pinning things for themselves. As a result, I think it's a great way to get insight into someone.

For most people, these sites are bookshelves. Reviewing a book is a lot of work and you have to really invest time to do something like that. I think you can get an idea, somewhat, of what a person is like by the books they read. Not fully, of course, but it’s a reliable piece to the puzzle.

3/ Blogger. (no link... you're already here)

Admittedly, I am totally guilty of over thinking posts on my blog. I worry about offending people, and I worry about my sarcasm not finding it’s mark, but when you post long posts, it’s impossible for your personality not to come though somewhat.

So what about you guys? Where do you think you are the most yourself? Where do you think you can look to get the best indicator of what someone’s like? If there is one you think represents you best, add a link to it in the comments section.


Stacy McKitrick said...

Where do I think I am the most myself? At home! Ha ha!

I can't be myself on-line for fear of being misunderstood (and once it's on the internet it's there FOREVER). However, I am more outgoing in my writing than I ever am in person (besides at home, that is), but then it also takes me an enormous amount of time to get something written. Another reason I'm so quiet in person - I can't think that fast!

JeffO said...

I've been thinking on this subject a lot. I tend to agree, in long blog posts over a period of time, personality is going to tend to come through. In thinking about it, I'm surprisingly 'me' on Facebook, particularly when I make witty comments on the posts of others.

Julie Luek said...

I started on a path of over-thinking this whole concept and trying to make an impression or build an image to build a platform. Blech. I don't like when I can tell others are doing that, and I didn't like being a part of it. One of my resolutions this year was to build a platform but quit pandering and just be me. It's made the whole social networking more fun and less stressful. Interestingly, some of my most popular posts have been the more personal posts and less about catering to an image. Yay!

Cielle said...

I suppose all this hinges on what is meant by "most yourself." In general, I think my posts on Facebook and Blogger are more "me" (the "me" my close family and friends know) than what usually comes across in casual social contact or at work. There is no doubt that I think about what I write, but it's all in the interest of saying what I really mean, not presenting a false image. That said, I think there are a lot of false fronts being presented in social media. Although you can get an idea about who a person is, sometimes that's by observing how they want you to see them, not by believing what you see.

Steven W said...

@ Stacy - The "once it's out there, it's there forever" thing is what makes me second guess everything. I'd never intentionally say something to offend anyone, but rather than speaking as if I'm talking with people one-on-one, I speak, sometimes, as if I'm addressing an audience, and someone's recording it. I'm working on that though.

@Jeff - FB is where I struggle, and it's the same reason I struggle on Twitter: I just don't think I'm interesting enough to post an update people would want to read. So when I post something, I always feel a bit unnatural.

PS - sorry for the double posts... blogger's getting all glitchy over here.

Steven W said...

@Julie - you and I made the same resolution: just be yourself on social media. I've also decided to not let social media feel like work. If it's intended to be me having a conversation, I want it to feel relaxed, the way I'd want to feel if I were having a conversation.

@Cielle - Really good points. And I don't think a lot of people who aren't "themselves" are necessarily trying to trick people or trying to be deceptive. Being careful about what you post might reveal that you're a careful person, or thoughtful. So I really liked that last point you made.

Steve MC said...

Great topic, and one I ponder about (such as if I should use the word "ponder," which sounds pretentious, or maybe something more dynamic, like "fret," which adds emotion. yeah, let's go with that)... and one I often fret about, even though I'm not online except in comments.

Like you, I'm not sure I could write so openly as to risk offending people in some way, and yet I really admire those who do show themselves fully, or at least a good, sincere part of them, like Patrick Rothfuss and INTERN. It's what makes them stand out and pulls us to them.

They say with writing, the trick is to not write to an audience, but to a friend, and I think that's the best thing to aim for. Where you're open and relaxed and not fretting over using "fret" twice in the same comment. : p

Steven W said...

@Steve - Fret is a good choice. I'd use it too :). I agree that those writers who really open up and let loose really draw us in. In fact, I would have said Rothfuss, too. Also, Neil Gaiman. Sometimes, when I read his blog, I feel like he's writing to himself and I get to peek over his shoulder. I wish blogger/word press had been around in their early careers, b/c it would have been interesting to see how they would have done with it before they were so beloved.

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