Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Social media offers multi-dimensional personas

Photo by Liz Cezat, taken at the Heidelberg Project.

Will the real Jim McDonald please stand up? Jim might be a wise guy on Facebook; a thoughtful father on Twitter and a rock and roll fanatic on Pinterest. Of course, the advertisers are soaking up this multi-dimensional man for all the ads they can show him wherever he goes online.
In real life, Jim is a shy guy. Yet, the Internet and social media allow him to amplify his voice, and thus, his personality. This is the new age of social interaction. Don’t be surprised if the person you are following online appears totally different and even subdued in person. There’s the buffer of the screen (whether it’s on a computer, smart phone, iPad or the next electronic invention) and commentators don’t have to face the person they are talking to – unless they’re on Skype.
Reading comments to news articles written by the “average Joe” is like walking on a landmine field. You never know when it’s going to get explosive and you might be hurt (psychologically) by a commentator. Reviewers to New York Times posts tend to be articulate, intelligent and kind. Those responding to Yahoo news tend to be the Wild West types, where anything goes and the meaner and nastier you can be, the better (in their minds anyway).
With all the traces of comments you can leave online, it’s a bonus when you can stay true to your personality and values. Being a fake online can have repercussions offline too. What if you do meet the person that you bullied in an online comment string? Are you going to apologize or punch him out?
Sharing your thoughts online is a good thing because it opens up the conversation to multitudes of others. It draws in people who are attracted to your comments, your values, and your vision. Just be careful what you write. Think to yourself, “Would I say this if I was looking directly into the eyes of my online recipient?”