But you’re not. If you were, your offline world would be very similar to your online. And it’s not. How do I know? I don’t. But I do know how my offline world works and there are but a few similarities between the two. I bet for some of you, If you sat down and did a side by side comparison of what you do online versus what you do offline-you would no doubt see that they are very very different. They are apples and oranges. Your offline world ain’t so transparent.
So what’s my point? Marketers, Social media marketers, and PR people who preach about asking or telling someone to be transparent online in social networks, might want to re-think that. Why? Because it’s more difficult than you think.
Yes, some do come out of their shells online. And the numbers bear that out. Possibly because they are now hiding behind the screen, they can now be this completely “other” person. Can they finally become the person they really are underneath it all? It’s possible. The “real you”? Maybe. The flip side though is, they can be the asshole too. There’s transparency that shows the good in a person, but there’s also the transparency that shows the bigot, the evil and the cruel in some people as well. Online personas allow that.
You see being transparent has different connotations depending on where you are and who you are. Asking someone to all of a sudden “be”, is a lot more difficult than you think. You never thought about that did you? We throw around the words authentic and transparent in social networks, because they are”buzzy” and the words du jour, but what we have failed to realize is that asking someone to all of a sudden change gears and be something that they can barely “do” offline can be a lot more difficult than it appears not to be. Sometimes I wonder if we want the “real” you online.
I think you hit the nail on the head! You never really know someone you meet online, unless they WANT you to know them. Even then, it’s all about what is relevant.
I think people try and draw a line between who they are/what they say and what is relevant. For example: does anyone really CARE that I’m a chocoholic? Is it relevant to the circle of tweeps I’ve chosen?
In the real world, you could walk into my office and grab a piece of chocolate out of the community candy dish on my desk and just KNOW that I love chocolate. It’s difficult to completely communicate who you are online.
Many people I know (in the real world) are very private, with no desire to engage in social media. I think the efforts that our online friends make to be transparent is commendable, since it does seem to be a difficult task.
@Charity, I think YOU nailed it when you say, “I think people try and draw a line between who they are/what they say and what is relevant.”
Yes the numbers belie our innate curisosity with all things social, but those could be tire kickers as well as all the A personalities who now have another channel, or venue to spread their wings. The B types and everyone else as you say, still are not prompted nor have any desire to engage in social media, transparency or the veil of anonymity notwithstanding.
Great comment on your part.
I think we all live in different personas all the time. Core family, extended family, company, industry, etc. And ofline vs online doubles the permutations. That is not to take away from a personal goal we should all have of being authentic and transparent whenever and wherever we can. Meshing goals and reality is a continual struggle for all of we humans.
@Ed I agree, but asking or expecting someone to be something that is just not in there DNA and saying that it’s the only way to “be” online in social media might be a bit too much. Yes it would be great if online and offline were virtually the same, a lot of things might be different, but alas it is not to be and never will be. But social media has opened up a lot of peoples eyes and souls to the possibilties.
Hi Marc. Thanks for the comment on my personal blog. It boggles the mind. We’ve all been there (and could be there any day), so I feel for you.
On this post, however, we’re finding that GenY/Millennials are less cognizant of the separation of self (on/offline). See my recent post on ITSinsider on this.
@Susan, yea I saw that, and it’s no less surprising that Gen Y’s and millenials cannot or don’t delineate between online and offline worlds. In one sense it’s a good thing but on the other, its rife with land minds, don’t you think?