It's so easy to whip out your phone at any given moment of the day and share your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything that's going on in your world.
In fact, plenty of people seem to have the view that if it's not on social media, it didn't happen. So, some of us get it on there as quickly as possible:
I don't give much thought to what other people choose to say online. I can control what I see from other people no matter what tool I'm using. If someone I follow decides they want to say things that I find objectionable or offensive, they're within their rights to say those things. I sometimes respond with a different view, but I'm picky about when I share. (Sometimes it's better to just leave it alone and that's all I'm gonna say about it.)
Who do people see through your online self?
I don't want to get into the B-word ("brand" in case you were wondering) in this. Yes, this could definitely be part of a conversation about that word, but let's skip that particular discussion.
There is an old saying, "you are what you eat", which I think could be re-tooled for social media to tell the masses that "you are what you say". In a way, I really hope that's true for the vast majority of people. Even for those unflinchingly honest types that let it all hang out, I can respect a genuine opinion or reaction.
What happens when your online self isn't really you?
Several years ago, I wrote a recap post about a conference I attended. In the post, I said something about not working with brands. When someone asked me why I said that when I mentioned in the same post that I had driven a PR vehicle from a big car company to the conference, I realized I hadn't really made myself clear.
This lack of clarity was completely unintentional. I should have said I don't really seek out opportunities to work with brands as a blogger, though I've enjoyed it the few times I have. However, that is not now and likely never will be a major focus of my blogging. Will I work with brands? Yes, if the opportunity is right.
My unclear statements could have led some to question my credibility and integrity if they witnessed me posting content about working with brands on a regularly on social channels. That wasn't a concern, though, since my content shows I don't.
Does the sum of your content add up to the real you?
Some people consciously choose not to share certain topics that are near and dear to their hearts. The reason doesn't matter. The choice not to share is valid. So, of course, the pieces of our lives and thoughts about the world that we choose not to share create a variable in the equation. That should be the only variable, though.
The parts we do share are telling. They give our friends and followers small glimpses that they use to form an overall impression of who we are. (Still not talking about the B-word.)
The friend that shares daily news and opinions about politics cares about what's happening in the world.
The friend that posts stories and pictures about their kids every day has an unwavering devotion to family.
The friend that has a "tragedy" at least once a day is unhappy.
The friend who posts vague statuses and never replies to comments clearly wants attention.
The friend who complains about work and family is overwhelmed and frazzled.
But what if these aren't entirely true?
Political friend is also an avid gardener and runner, but it's hard to tweet when they're elbow deep in weeding and planting or pounding the pavement.
Family-focused friend has a demanding, interesting job they can't talk about online. Family is a safe topic.
Tragic friend is actually a pretty happy person, but social media has become an outlet for those moments of chaos in life and they haven't noticed that they mostly only post when something goes wrong.
Vague friend is a lot like tragic friend.
Complainer friend wouldn't know what to do if they were less busy. They find the hectic moments entertaining to share, especially family shenanigans.
Share your truth.
I've gone through phases a couple of times when I have turned into excited friend. Everything is wonderful, fabulous, and amazing, even when real life isn't actually going all that well. When I catch myself in these slightly disingenuous moments, I re-evaluate what I'm saying. The world may not need to know what I'm dealing with, but I don't want to be misleading in the positive OR the negative.
Take a look in the mirror.
Go through your social media profiles and see what you've been posting. Try to look at yourself as if you aren't you. What words would you use to describe your content? What assumptions would you make about your life?
You’re basically looking in a mirror: Do you recognize the person you see?