Hello, Have We Met?
I asked in this blog post about online manners whether a person’s online persona was a good indicator of the person you would meet offline?
I was intrigued by the thoughtful “No” I received back from a blogger I respect. He explained that, offline, he was a more introverted and measured individual, whereas, online, he was more ‘out there’. Not too ‘out there’ you understand, but certainly braver in some of his comments and interactions than he would be offline.
Without apparent conflict, it seems to work for him.
Other valid reasons for being ‘someone else online’ then came forth from other blogging colleagues. As an example, one uses the space as a sort of training ground for the ‘someone’ they wished they were offline but need to try it on for size first.
Definitely food for thought, but I can’t help wondering who I would be meeting in an offline situation. The person I’ve come to know online over the years – or the stranger behind the avatar?
In any case, it was an honest response, and one which went a little way to explaining a phenomenon I sometimes came across in the blogsphere.
That some confident and assertive voices on blogs do not necessarily translate when ‘meeting’ that person outside of their blog elsewhere on social media.
Or the blogger who, wanting to cultivate a more laid back demeanor, write in those tones. Measured, articulate and open to comments and new thinking. It is then a little surprising to come across this same person as a raving, angry and shouty thing in other social media interactions.
Now, when I read a new blog, I am aware that, potentially, I am dealing with three people:
1. the voice of that person when blogging;
2. the voice of that person when they are elsewhere online;
3. that person’s voice or voices when offline.
I suppose this blogging ‘multiple personality’ syndrome is no different to say, online dating. A classic situation where people sometimes present the person they would like to be – or offers a personality they believe the other party is looking for.
We are, therefore, not talking about any new phenomenon here; maybe just a new playground in which it is played out.
While I understand it, it is something which would prove too tiring for me.
We are often called upon to make compromises and adhere to professional and personal labels in our wider lives. Spouse, parent, sibling, boss, employee, and a myriad of others. Our voice(s) in those roles are necessarily compromised. Otherwise, we are led to believe, anarchy and mayhem ensues.
As one of my most charming and politest friends said of her 360 employee work review:
“If I really told my bosses what was on my mind, they’d have no choice but to sack me!”
In the past, and not wanting to be responsible for ensuing anarchy and mayhem, we resorted to a diary or journal. In that wonderful tome we would pour out our thoughts. Thoughts which were authentic to us and unsullied by anyone else’s idea of what those thoughts and opinions should be.
A role which has now, to some extent, been taken on by the Blog and, hence, its popularity in recent years. An opportunity to loosen some of our real or perceived shackles and just talk from who we are. Our core. To say clearly and in one voice “this is what I feel, think, want.”
For me, if that is the stated or unstated purpose of why you blog or write online, ditch the compromises of offline life. Ditch the multiple personalities and speak in your voice.
This is the voice I am interested in getting to know and so, in that wise, will always ask:
Will the real blogger please stand up?
What are your thoughts on Mel’s post? Do you have any experience of split online/offline personalities? Leave a comment…