Is Your Online Persona Really You?

 

who are you online

This weekend I was at my parents house, standing around the kitchen chatting with my Stepmom. Sometimes I attempt to talk to the non-bloggers in my life about blogging. She’s one of those people who has to hear me use words like sponsor, link up, Pinterest optimization, etc. She also has a plethora (God I love using that word) of ideas and feeds me some good ones. I don’t remember exactly how it came up but she mentioned my “online persona”. “What do you mean?”, I asked, confused. “Who you are on your blog isn’t really you. It’s your online persona.”

In an instant, I felt dishonest. Had I been betraying my readers? Have I been truthful about myself? Who am I, on the internet, if not me? She insisted that it wasn’t a bad thing, but still, it stuck with me.

Later, on the phone with Kaylin, I asked her. “Do you think I have an online persona?”

“Yes,” she replied, no hesitation. “Who you are on your blog isn’t all of you. It’s part of you. I can see you in it.”

I’ve written over 400 blog posts. When you think about it, it seems obvious that I’d never be able to convey exactly who I am, all 25 years of me, in 400 blog posts. There are so many facets of my life that you don’t know about, and never will. There are things I’d be embarrassed to share, things that would embarrass or hurt other people if I shared, and things that are just too private. This isn’t to say that I’m some crazy complex person. It’s just that everyone is an onion. Everyone has a past.

This didn’t just make me think about me. It made me think about you. About other bloggers. Who you are on the internet can never be all of who you are. When I think of what other bloggers don’t know about me, I think about all the things I must not know about them. Sometimes I’ll be reading a blog and realize, huh, she doesn’t talk about this area of her life much. We all have our reasons.

I think what confused me most about discovering my own “online persona” is that it wasn’t done intentionally. I thought I’d been conveying the real me this entire time. I’ve tried to get people who know me in real life to tell me what is different but they can’t pinpoint it. It’s a strange feeling, to feel like I’ve done something wrong in a way. So I guess what I’m asking you to see is that behind the words on your computer screen, there is a whole person. If you’re reading this, you’re a whole person too. No 400, or hell 4,000 blog posts could possibly convey the whole of who you are. That’s what makes life online both beautiful and dangerous.

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  • I completely understand what you mean. When we blog it’s to a public audience and so we will always be a little more reserved than behind closed doors. We share certain private thing’s because we hope to relate to people going through the same things. Having an online persona doesn’t mean were being fake or trying to be something were not. After all your blogs is yours and you can share as much or as little of ‘you’ as you damn well please 🙂

    I really enjoy your post’s and feel your honest & funny personality coming through 🙂

    • I think you’re absolutely right about sharing certain private things in order to relate to people. That’s absolutely why we do share what we do. If I wasn’t worried about shooting myself in the foot professionally, I’d be more open about a lot of things.

  • You are so right. But we CANT share all of ourselves online. The little that we do share already can (and does) provide fodder for some people to ridicule and bash you (you know what I’m referring to). Regardless, I love your online persona. She’s a smart cookie 😉

  • I’m very new to this blogging game, and so I’m still at the stage of figuring out the basics of how much I want to give away. Those simple things like naming your family members and friends, but I feel like that all begins to compound on everything. At one moment you are giving your boyfriend a nickname and a few weeks later you carefully avoid discussing the massive fight you had with your best friend. At the same time this space is a blog, not a psychologists office or your 6th grade diary. The whole world doesn’t need to know your business.

    Love your blog by the way!!!

    • I didn’t think about what I’d call my family and my boyfriend on my blog until I’d already been writing for a while. I used my boyfriends full name for a long time and now I switched it to N, for privacy reasons. It’s hard to figure out what to share and what not to but I’d rather share too little than too much.

  • I’m struggling figuring out how much I even CAN share on my blog. I’m going into the medical field (as a doctor so about as I’m-supposed-to-be-a-professional as I can get). So either I basically have to like never use my name or a picture of my face or my location and say what I want, or show my face and monitor everything I post. :/ it’s weird.

    • PS. if it’s any consequence I really like the bit of you we get to see here!

    • Thank you, Laura! That’s a tough situation. You could always make up an internet alias and share pictures. Most people couldn’t find your images via google search if your photo was associated with another name. They’d have to do a reverse image search. Just a thought. Good luck!

      • That’s actually a very good idea… I really do like the idea of having an outlet so I may have to look into it (an alias feels like I just may be a spy of some sort) 😛

  • Lex

    I am semi-new to blogging and definitely trying to balance how much to share online and finding my “online persona” –it’s tricky!

  • So damn true. There is absolutely no way I could or would want to blog about everything in my life. My blog is more of an extension of my life as apposed to a complete depiction. The simple fact that I can’t control how my words go through other people’s filter online is the main reason why I stay away from super personal posts. Never thought of it that way before, but I guess everyone has an online persona… Doesn’t make it a bad thing tho.

    • I like that. Your blog is an extension of your life. Great word choice.

  • I love this post. I think we all struggle with this. I think for the post it’s not all of me but it’s part of me. We choose how much we want to put out there which is a double edge sword.. my family doesn’t always understand what I’m talking about with blogging..

    • I like to share private things to relate to people but I also don’t love the risk. The safety risk and the risk of being bashed for something. It’s a challenge.

  • Cat

    interesting post, I think it would be impossible to share yourself 100% nor should you. Everyone should keep some parts of themselves private x

  • I’ve been thinking about this same topic a lot lately, how I portray myself vs. How I really am. There are definetly parts of life I’ve struggled with putting out in the blog realm, especially when it exposes so much about other people besides just me. Great post!
    xxoo,
    Jordyn

  • This is so true! I think that so much of my life doesn’t make it onto my blog because it involves other people- I don’t want to put all their shiza up on a public blog, so I skip out on talking about it! But those things define who I am, so by skipping those stories, you don’t really get the whole picture of my life.

    Also, I think the medium of a blog just makes it harder to convey your true personality than in real life. There’s only so much you can get from a person by reading however many blog posts and seeing a handful of short videos!

    • That’s absolutely true. A big part of my life is the other people in it. When I don’t share those things, I’m withholding a lot of myself.

      I feel like finding your voice is what people are referring to when they want their personality to come through their writing. It’s hard to do.

  • I really appreciate this post (and your stepmom for being so honest). I think one of the beautiful parts of being human is that no other person is ever going to fully understand us. This is also what makes being human so hard. Writing a blog is just a slice of our lives, and even though it isn’t the whole slice, it can still be honest.

    • This comment is so beautifully written. I think many of us have blogs to search for others to understand us and to feel like we aren’t alone. But it’s nearly impossible for anyone to understand another human being. We’re pretty dang complex!

  • Oh my goodness, I totally agree with you! You are so right. I have written almost 500 posts (many in the beginning should be deleted), and I know I haven’t been completely honest with people. Yes, I blog about what is going on in my life, but I haven’t told them everything. There are lots of things that are just too private to share (parents divorcing, for instance) that I know they wouldn’t want me to broadcast over the internet.

    This is a great post and something I totally need to think about in the future. You really will never know anyone, completely, on a blog. I don’t think it’s possible.

  • I think as bloggers we have to only showcase part of our personality, and we’ve unintentionally done that. If we showed every single side of ourselves our readers would be so confused! One day they’d look at a blog and read about the authors kids, the next about baseball, the next about home decor, the next could be anything. There would be no theme and readers would eventually stop reading because there would be no consistency. They would never know what they were getting from one day to the next.
    Even in ‘real life’ we choose to show part of our personality. I sure don’t go to my serving job and spout off hippie-dippy words of gratefulness to everyone, but in my yoga classes that’s exactly why I’m there. Hopefully most adults can understand that they will never know someones full story. I love the voice you use and the person you choose to portray so keep it up!

  • I think about this often, actually, and it’s a weird thing. I would hate to think people I only know via blogging think I’m anything other than who I “actually” am, but it’s inevitable. On a related note–I often wonder if the ladies I love reading most online would also be people I’d click with in real life. And the weird thing is, some of them might not be. It’s a strange dichotomy (is that proper use of that word? ha)

  • It’s so funny because I read a post on another blog about how “bloggers shouldn’t hide things” and “how other bloggers are fake”, and it had me thinking for a few days. Of course there are areas of your life you won’t or can’t share on the internet; for me, i know there are quite a few areas i don’t share, not because of me, but because I know it would have an impact on other people. It’s a see-saw of balance- but, i think you do a great job of it.

  • This post is fabulous! I’m glad it was brought to your attention and you could share this. Sometimes I don’t feel like the “real me” is conveyed on my blog, but I know it is a PART of me. Like you’ve said, some things just can’t be shared and even still, some aren’t worth sharing.

  • I agree. I think that no matter how REAL you are on your blog, you can never portray your personality in its entirety on it. I keep certain things private for the reasons you mentioned… because they involve others, etc.

  • This is all so true. No one is willing to share every minute detail of their lives with the internet and everyone on it. It’s hard to open up, I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m opening up about really hard things yet, but I’m sure I will. I think the first post that’s very personal and revealing is probably the hardest (I’m hoping!)

  • I think this is a really interesting idea which I totally understand. As bloggers we pick and choose what we share online. We aren’t completely open about everything in our lives because we still do crave a bit of privacy. I don’t necessarily think that we’re being dishonest but more like splitting our personality into online and real life. There is a bit of truth and ourselves when we write a blog post.

    This was a wonderful post with a topic that we should really pay more attention too 🙂

    Briana
    royallypink.blogspot.com

  • I love your posts – they always make me think, REALLY think, and that is such a great thing to come across. I get what you mean. Even though I just started blogging (well, this time just started for the 1,000,000th time), I already know there’s certain parts of my life I’m not going to share, and other parts I gladly will. But I am still trying to figure out the answer to “If someone from my real life found my blog, would I care? Would I be proud of it, or mortified that they found this other part of me? Would I be worried to be judged by them?” But mostly, I love to blog, so I am just focusing on doing what I love and hope the rest (peace with being possibly judged, etc) will follow.

    I just know, for now, I’m not comfortable putting a lot of things about me online – just the “happy” stuff so to speak. Maybe that will change with time. But I like this post because it reminds me that whatever I choose to post is okay.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • So good. Makes you really think. I do believe some people intentionally are not real. I feel that I am reflective of who I am on my blog, but I am sure I am more conservative.
    Blessings!

  • That’s actually a really good point. Even though we can be open and honest and truly be ourselves on our blogs, that’s still only part of who we are. Really thought provoking.

  • And now I have my own complex and will proceed to asking every one in my real life if I’m “me” on my blog. It is interesting to think about what people are hiding, though!

  • This is incredibly understandable, and made me think about my own online persona. You’re right, I somewhat feel like I’ve betrayed my readers by not writing about 100% of my life. But at the same time, it’s my blog, it’s your blog. You don’t necessarily have to write about every aspect of you life – you’re right about things being private. Everyone has secrets, we shouldn’t have to broadcast them just because we’re willing to talk about a lot of other things online.

  • I think about this alot & find it so interesting… Kaylin really summed it up when she said that your online persona is a part of you, but could never be all of you. In my mind, our online personal shows the highlights – the great, the bad, the revelations… but it leaves out much of the mundane and of the things that we often take for granted and don’t feel the need to take note of and post for everyone to see. And interestingly enough, it’s those mundane, everyday, much too ordinary circumstances that make up the majority of who we are. It’s really interesting to think about. Anyway, I don’t think you’re being dishonest on your blog if your online persona is not exactly you in real life – I think it’s a “best of” or a “highlights reel” and just as lovely to know and read about!

  • Me online is just like me in real life, well I think it is let me go and check with my niece who reads my blog……………she said my blog is me there is no difference which is good because I try to be true to me…………..and my followers

  • I really loved and connected to this post because I often feel similar emotions regarding the topic of how personal to get on the blog.

    Of course everything in our online space can’t represent 100% of who we are as people, our pasts, our hopes, our relationships, and our day-to-day, etc. I don’t care how many blog posts I write, my online space is just my online space. It’s a place where I get to post whatever I feel like…things I like, personal stories, funny things, inspiring things, my work, my excitements, pictures, and bits of my personal inner workings. Most of the times I sensor out parts out of my life without ever giving it too much thought. I just try to be as authentic as possible without delving into the parts of my life better kept behind the scenes for whatever reason, big or small. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a little mystery. Sometimes there are hard topics that beg the question, “should I post about this?” I think it’s just a personal call. There are things today that I don’t share, but hope maybe I’ll feel more comfortable putting out there in the future. Blogging for me is about growth and I know inevitably things will change in my online space (how I write, what I will write about, how posts are structured, etc) because I will change. Being yourself with boundaries is a no shame game in blogging. 😉

    xoxo

  • This is crazy, I’ve been thinking about this lately! I don’t like reading the blogs that sound like the writer is trying to be different or be like somebody else so I try really hard to make sure that it is completely ME behind a blog post. I like how you say that there’s no way you could ever share everything about who you are because we just can’t, no matter how many posts we write.

  • “That’s what makes life online both beautiful and dangerous.”

    ^^^ This! So, true. I think this may be a big reason I don’t share about my blog on Facebook. Not that I’m necessarily hiding anything, but it’s just a different world. But, why are they separate?

    Great post! Definitely something to reflect on.

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  • Wonderful post. And the last line was so NEAT. Loved it!

  • I think this is something everyone struggles with. Like many girls have said above, it can sometimes be hard to find a balance of saying what you want and saying what what’s more appropriate… if say, your grandmother or boss were to discover your blog. My mom found my “online journal” back in high school, and it was embarrassing to say the least. Even now, if I write something about my fiancé or his career, I have him take a look at it first to make sure he’s ok with everything I’ve written. There’s a few posts I’ve had shelf for now. Censoring yourself kinda sucks!

  • It’s so weird to think about that, but then I instantly remember writing a few posts after a glass (or 3) of wine and editing them later because I overshared. It’s not really oversharing when I’m just being honest, but it feels so different being published. I’m pretty much a censored version of myself. I think I’m OK with that, but it’s definitely one to think about. Thanks for sharing and making me do a little reflection.

  • Wonderful post. I’ve been grappling with this issue a lot lately as I’ve just started a new blog after several years. I find myself a bit fearful at the thought of putting myself “out there”. How do I overcome that fear? I love blogging. Can I maintain my personal privacy? I guess that’s up to me. What I choose to share or omit. Thanks for reminding us that its ‘okay’ to be a blogger and not share every little bit of ‘us’. x

    http://www.lifeplus1.me

  • I love this post. As much as we want to be “real” and for people to get to know us, we are but one person in our world. Some things if shared couldn’t hurt another person, or affect them in a negative way. There are also moments when we vent, are sick, or just tired that wouldn’t be that interesting for people to see. I think we give so much of ourselves too that saving a little for ourselves is okay too.

  • I think it’s totally true that we have online personas. I think certain things get way over exaggerated online. i mean, surely we are all not that crazily obsessed over wine. I mean, I love wine, but I don’t go crazy over it.

    Then again, maybe some people really do. Who knows.

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  • The way I see it, it’s like this:
    We use (subconsciously) different language and communication styles to talk to our parents than we use to talk to our close friends, or our boss, or total strangers. It’s the same with persona- it’s all YOU, just selective pieces as appropriate for the location and audience. And since nothing dies on the internet, and you truly don’t know who is, or will be, reading each post, you HAVE to err on the side of caution.
    I think it means we can have unique, authentic blogs, but it’s the same person we’d display if, say, we were at a party with a bunch of people we didn’t know but might be interested in befriending.

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  • Now I am curious to know what might online persona might be! … You express the dilemma of sharing it all on spot though. I personally believe we all are certain versions of ourselves with everyone. We are not our whole selves with any one person and thats true for internet too. No?

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