I've literally been trying to write this post for 3 days now...
Natalie Whipple has talked about this a bunch of times.
Nathan Bransford recently posted on it...
...as well as the agent Rachelle Gardner.
I also touched on this subject in one of the first posts I ever wrote (which does includes a brief glimpse into the most cynical opinion on art you'll ever find...), but let's talk a little more about authenticity online.
I think most people, if you ask them, would say they are being themselves online/on their websites/blogs/etc, but others might come to the site and say, 'This person isn't authentic.'
Just like, if you meet someone new at a party or wherever, you may get the feeling they're putting on an act for you. Fake smile, overly polite, that tone of voice... you know what I'm talking about...
But we all put on acts. That's just part of social consideration.
Would you want to be around someone who said exactly what they were thinking every moment? Or a person who feels the weight of the world is on their shoulders and complains constantly. When someone asks you, 'How are you?' do you answer back, 'well, if these haemorrhoids would go away, that'd be just peachy.'
Just like with new people we meet in real life, we feel out our audience. Someone throwing too much personal information (or complaints) at you can be disconcerting and usually, it turns you off.
Also, what kind of person you meet and what kind of relationship you want with them will change how you present yourself. If you're meeting a blind date, you're going to act differently than if you bump into an 85 year old woman in the grocery store, or you meet your new boss for the first time, or if you have a job like a lawyer, doctor, etc and you run into one of your new clients/patients on the street.
I don't have a big online presence. I don't use Twitter, Facebook, etc. Other than this blog, I'm essentially invisible. Up until a few months ago, I rarely even read blogs or consistently followed websites, so I'm still trying to feel out the social rules of this new form of meeting people (give me a slap with a rolled-up newspaper if I do something wrong).
I thought long and hard before starting this blog... what did I want out of this online relationship? What do I want? Because it's inevitable that what we want will change over time.
So, if depending on the relationship affects the way we display ourselves, and that is normal social consideration, how does that affect this blog in particular?
I did address this a little in the first entry I ever posted, but (since it's a little ramble-y) to summarize, I decided to go online to meet other people with the same interests. Because I don't work a traditional job (I renovate the house we live in, then we sell it and I do it again, hence 'the witch's hut' I occasionally refer to), I don't interact with a lot of people, other than the customer service crew at the contractor desk in Rona/Home Depot and the occasional tradesman. Sure, I get out once in a while for dinners, see my writing group a couple times a month and catch the ferry to the mainland to see friends/family, but even those relationships require *social consideration* because (especially with family) having the same interests is a rarity. Especially the writing thing. Sure, my family and friends all read, but none of them write, so if they do read a book, they aren't interested in dissecting the story to find what worked well and what didn't work well. They either 'liked it' or 'didn't like it'.
I think the main reason this entry took 3 days to compose is because I value honestly over any other character trait. If someone asks for my opinion, sure, I might sugar-coat it a little once in a while, but I will always give a straight answer. Even if it's not what they want to hear. I figure, if someone values my opinion enough to ask, then I'm going to return that show of respect and be truthful.
Since my primary objective was to meet people with similar interests, I've intentionally shown that side of my online. My interests, the way I think, books and movies I like, my sense of humour, what I'm curious about... all that kind of stuff. Even things I hold back in real life relationships, like the fact I'm dyslexic or that I get voraciously obsessive about certain things.
The things I intentionally don't talk about always have to do with maintaining the privacy of people I know in real life. I try not to use their names, nor do I discuss the relationships I have with them. That also includes former jobs/etc. I also try not to discuss things I don't like because, just like in real life, I don't think there's any excuse for dumping complaints/rants online and subjecting other people to that. Negativity is like a cancer. And I'm not exaggerating... there are a ton of studies relating to health/etc. Besides, just because I don't like something, it doesn't mean someone else won't love it... and my opinion isn't worth any more than anyone else's. If I can have real life friends with different ethnic backgrounds, different religious, different political views, different sexual orientations, etc, then there's no excuse for not befriending all different kinds of people online.
I strongly believe that no difference is insurmountable as long as one person respects the other.*
So far, I'd say my little online adventure has been a success... I've met a few really nice people, occasionally correspond with them via e-mail (which is totally awesome!) and found some interesting blogs to follow/read.
What about you guys? Have you thought about why you are online and what kind of relationship you want with those you meet? If you have your own websites/blogs, do you have clear boundaries about what you talk about and what you don't?
*This is the main reason I hate war so much. Because it's when one group of people devalues another group of people. It's only when you consider someone less important or valuable that you can abuse them, take from them, kill them, etc. In any war, that's what the propaganda is about... making the 'enemy' less human than yourself.