I’ve been fascinated with Craig Kanalley’s experiments on how we connect in today’s world. He gave out his Google Voice phone number not so long ago to see what kind of response he got from people, and the results were interesting. And the other day he posted what he discovered in his time trying online dating.
Something that stuck out to me from his post (and I pointed this out to him privately) was how people were not being genuine and were holding back. “I felt as though a lot of people were being fake on these sites and not open about who they really are (weaknesses and all).”
And it got me to thinking about how the Internet — whether it’s online dating or social media or anything else — gives people the opportunity to be something they are not. If you’re hiding behind a computer screen, you can say something to someone you ordinarily wouldn’t because you feel braver. You don’t have to see their face and reaction. Plus it’s easy to create a persona for yourself hiding behind that computer screen. So it makes me wonder what exactly is real today?
One of the pieces of advice I give reporters and editors about social media is to “be yourself.” It’s not easy for journalists to do that since we do sort of create a persona for ourselves when we deal with sources. We put up walls so we don’t get close to them, or even readers sometimes. But when it comes to social media, people want us to be real and personable. It’s important to be yourself while still keeping your journalistic standards.
And in the course of my life I’ve always tried to be myself no matter what I do — whether it’s online or in the real world. What you see is really what you get. I really am as quirky in the real world as I am on social media. I really can be as intense as some people may think I am. I really do smile and laugh a lot. It took me a lot of years to be comfortable with who I am. Now that I am, I don’t want to be any different than that.
And it’s always shocking when I meet an online friend for the first time and they tell me “wow, you really are the same in person as you are online.” It makes me wonder just how many people are hiding their true selves out there.
But another friend posted this tweet earlier today:
Success, it seems to me, is bred through being wholly what you are and not trying to be what you are not.—
Christian Camerota (@christiancam) May 16, 2012
I like to think the success I have had in my life is because I am genuine and real and true to myself, which is another reason I tell people to always be themselves and true to their heart.
What do you think about this topic? Share your thoughts in the comments or send me a tweet @jenconnic.