Too Transparent? Not enough? Overthinking? Hmmm...

I get a lot of comments from folks that my blog, (and pretty much all the information I put out for public consumption) is very open, deep, revealing, and sometimes - too revealing, too open, too deep - Man Jim why do you put all that out in the open like that?

My reply is pretty simple:

Why not?

As I've talked about before, my aim in using social media, in being part of the community is to make sure people know the real me, to know the things I value. I've talked about how I had let myself, and the way folks perceived me to become someone, something I was not, or at the very least somebody I didn't like to be. I want to be sure I don't go there again, and I want to be held accountable.

Now, I don't put "everything" out there, and there have been times when I wonder if I've been putting too much... I don't want to risk holding back to a point where it feels like I'm being dishonest. I would hope you would let me know if things weren't comfortable.

We all share the same concerns. We all have similar experiences. I think it's okay to talk about them, to be open, to share, to help each other.

Not everybody does and I get that. That's okay.

Recently, I was quizzed by one of my co-workers about some of my social media use. My co-worker, let's call them, CW uses Facebook, and is starting to blog a bit, but isn't sure just yet about "putting oneself" out there as it were. (Yes, I kept all references to CW very non-gender specific and I understand that the grammar police might come after me. I'm okay with that.)

Today, I thought I might share our exchange and get your take. What do you think?

CW's first question: If you have a certain "online persona" how does that overlap/interact with your real life persona?

My reply: I try really hard not to have an online persona, but instead to just be me as much as possible. I censor myself a little bit, but that's also a part of my process of trying to lose the "curmudgeon in the corner" image. My life had become about everything negative and I
was miserable, and miserable to be around I would imagine. In the spring of 2008 I ran into an online chat room watching hockey games. It was easy to just be myself, open up, and try as much as possible to keep it positive. As the summer progressed and we, (CML) moved into "Learn and Play," it was easy for me to transition that positive using the new
(to me) tools, and let people know that the curmudgeon wasn't really me, but just someone I had allowed myself to become over time, and that I wasn't happy with it. I wrote a blog post about it if you want to check it out.

CW's second question: How do you relate the "curmudgeon in the corner" with the "600 followers, (on Twitter)" guy?

My reply: "The 600 followers guy was unintentional, but who doesn't like to be popular right? :-) Just kidding. (Point of fact, I'm not concerned about numbers. That really was a joke.) Twitter is the tool I use to keep in touch with people I don't see everyday, and to meet new people who share similar interests. Think of it this way, Even with your best friend you probably didn't dive in as soon as you met them and start having heart to heart conversations. You took some time to get to know each other, sharing small parts of your life,
until a trust was built, molded, hardened and such and you felt you could open up. Twitter is pretty much the same thing, but it takes it a step further, or could because with these new tools people are collaborating, doing business, and still in some cases just making new friends. But - it is a small incremental process just like real life.

Most people who dive onto Twitter and bombard folks with way too much detail, and try to pitch their business deals or advertise their blogs right away are shunned almost immediately. (Just like we run away from the salespeople who attack as soon as we walk into the store.)
Those who get into Twitter for the reasons I mentioned above are far more likely to be valued so that when they do post a new blog or have something to share, or even have a business proposition people will listen. (Just like the sales person we know was watching and paying attention to what we are looking at, approaching us with answers when we have questions, but waiting for us to ask.)"

CW's final, and probably most important question: Who is more important, your twitter audience, or the people you interact with face to face every day? :)

This one was easy if I used my wife and my kids as my only example, but the answer didn't come out quite like I had intended. Tell me what you think?

"As far as my audience - I don't generally separate the two, but if I need to I always choose face to face first. The Social Media tools are just that, tools. While I hope to build valued relationships that will be face to face eventually - Ultimately the existing, (face to face) relationships are what is most important to me, and the people in front of me bring a more valued relationship. Just like customers in the building come before customers on the phone."

I was trying to emphasize the value of face to face, but I feel like I left a part of this unanswered, or something is missing in my reply. In many cases, my online relationships are also face to face relationships. Perhaps that means I'm using the tools effectively, the right way?

But not all of these relationships are face to face, at least not yet. Does that mean I'm not placing enough value, investing enough time? I know that not "all" of them will reach the next level, but what about 1/2? 1/3?

Perhaps I'm guilty (again) of over thinking. (You saw the smoke right?)

Above all else I want to be sure that I am doing things right, that my positive remains positive, and that my emphasis remains on building honest, open, relationships whether that be in the cyber community or the face to face world.

What's your take on this? What do you think?


Netter said...

I like that you are yourself - so often people portray themselves differently in different settings. Many people know you as a co-worker, friend, coach, trainer - this gives all of them a chance to see that who they know is the real you. You don't put on airs or an act of any kind.

Kathy Hennessy said...

You opened Pandora's Box, didn't you?

OK, first off, I have to disagree with Netter a bit. Even "IRL", we change the importance of one of our "personas" in each and every communication. Take you and I for example. I think it's great that you love hockey. I don't. We've never talked in depth about hockey (well, except that trip to the rink when I was about 12 that you don't remember...), and I honestly hope we never do. That not-withstanding, you have to be you, so are you not YOU around me? I thnk you are, but you just don't bring out the hockey fan. Which is how life works.

I agree with her that you don't put on airs - love that about you!

As far as the importance of social media vs personal interaction, I *firmly* believe that social media can help strengthen relationships, and can help inform/teach, but I also believe that we're becoming a society that rely on it a bit too much. It started out that you could only directly talk to them. Then the phone came along, and you lose some of the face to face information that you get. Then e-mail, and you lose the vocal nuances. Then texting, and you lose spelling, and often even thought behind a quick retort.

I am a VERY strong believer in face to face in any situation possible. That not being possible right now, I'll post this on your blog - LOL - how ironic!

LOVE to you all!!!

Jim Brochowski said...

Thank you both for your insight.

I think at our essence we are the same person no matter what. Yes, certain social situations may determine what parts of our personality we bring out, but I don't think that changes "who we are," at our core.

I agree with Butch too. Face to face will always be top dog. IMHO social media really just lengthens our reach and broadens our horizons.

Ane we love you too. :-)

Cat said...

I value people who are genuine, whether I know them online or off or both (like you). I will always push for more authenticity in relationships. That is not, however, how everyone sees the internet. I think about that old Farside cartoon that shows a dog using the computer with the caption something like "They probably all think I'm a dog." or something.

I first got involved on the internet about 6 years ago while on a former medical leave, and I spent a lot of time playing online dominoes with real people all over the world. Let me tell ya, there are some real CREEPS out there! I actually had people refuse to play a game of dominos because I wasn't going to flirt with them online. I know, right?

I do have a point here . . . and that is, there are lot of people who do get online and make up whole new personalities and even looks for themselves. I would imagine that it's like therapy for some, and for others, it just indicates that they NEED therapy. When you get involved in social networking that actually includes WORK and reality, it's just plain foolish to indulge in such petty games (not to mention annoying to those around you).

Share what you feel comfortable sharing. Be a real as you can be. This is, by nature, a shallow medium . . . those of you who make it less shallow are to be valued.

Jim Brochowski said...


I knew I had a comment out here to respond to still.

Annette and I both had similar experiences playing online poker, people that would flirt with us, turn it into a soap opera of who got to play where, and so on... One guy lived in Scotland and we actually talked over Yahoo chat via microphone. His brogue was so thick I could barely understand him, but apparently he enjoyed listening to me say "Pardon me?" enough that he constantly was online when I was. I couldn't chat with anyone else, and consequently made my status "permanently" busy - for all time.
We also don't play much poker, if any online anymore.

I totally agree with your point, and I would return those props right back atcha as you make the medium less shallow, and should be valued as well.


(Sorry it took so long to comment back.)