Things I Know 60 of 365: Online me is better than me

There’s this large trend – I think the next trend in the Web, sort of Web 2.0 – which is to have users really express, offer, and market their own content, their own persona, their identity.

– John Doerr

I started wondering today if I would know online me if I ran into him.

My G11 kids and I were discussing this piece by Dan Schwabel at Forbes arguing the usurpation of the resumé by a person’s online presence in the next 10 years.

While I’m hesitant to venture any guesses of what my world will look like in 10 years, something Schwabel wrote got me thinking:

Employers are reviewing your profiles to see what kind of person you are outside of work, who you’re connected to, and how you present yourself. Each gives clues to how well you can fit into the corporate culture. When employees don’t fit in the culture, there is turnover, and it costs the organization thousands of dollars.

I get that this fits with the big, scary warning that whatever is posted on the Internet stays on the Internet. Today, I started thinking about it in reverse.

I pay so much attention to keeping the spaces of my life online professional, I worry the persona I’ve created might have become better than the person I am.

The person online spaces allow me to be doesn’t get cranky midday if he forgets to eat.

A friend asked me to take care of something time sensitive today. It was probably the fourth time she’s asked me to take care of it, but for about a billion subconscious reasons, I’d put it off until the last minute.

Online me would never pull that crap.

Right now, at this very moment, online me could get ahold of people I’ve never met across multiple countries, set up appointments with them and collaborate on projects that will make my classroom a better place.

I, on the other hand, can get ahold of my dog right now as I sit watching episodes of Eureka on Netflix Watch Instantly (a service online me set up).

Online me hasn’t been purposely constructed with an eye toward besting me in a side-by-side comparison. He’s just had the benefit of being more thoughtfully constructed.

My friends know that online me is constantly connected to his students, so some of the more off-color jokes or embarrassing moments from my life don’t make it onto online me’s Facebook wall. Online me shrugs at my deepest moments of anger, hurt and self-doubt. Unbothered by the possibility of a future, online me never struggles with the question of “What next?” The man is saintly contented.

He sort of makes me sick.

Born of the knowledge that whatever is posted to the Internet stays on the Internet, my online persona is more a reflection of who I want to be in the world than who I am. This is great news for employment opportunities, but more than a little disconcerting for me.

5 thoughts on “Things I Know 60 of 365: Online me is better than me

  1. Love this idea of the two yous and I agree it is hard to let down the guard, but I think as it becomes more common, more and more people will blend the two. I would hate to think that we scare kids into not being themselves online for fear of not fitting into some corporate model, because the kids that creates a version of himself online that scares some insurance company, may also be the kid writing for Ad Busters or Greenpeace. Here is a question, which you wrote this post? Seems pretty vulnerable to me. You better be careful real you may be setting up a coup. Online you better watch out or he may cease to exist soon.

  2. smiling at Jabiz' comment, though i know this is an important question.i'm exploring the idea of our “social media identities” for my Ph.D, and am fascinated by how many people insist that what's out there online is simply “them.” my suspicion is that no matter how scrupulously honestly we attempt to portray ourselves or perform ourselves online, there's still a difference. part of it comes from the environment itself being different, rewarding different things. like you, i think my online self is a representation, maybe, of aspects of my best self. but it's not the result of my online self being professional – i was a longtime personal blogger, writing about grief and parenthood and deeply exposed things, long before i started looking at social media from an academic & educationally-focused perspective. i actually used the blog to perform a self that had no space in my professional life. in some ways, having the space to perform that “who you want to be in the world” can be really important, and maybe it comes back around to impact who you are in so-called “real life”?

    • I love this line, “in some ways, having the space to perform that “who you want to be in the world” can be really important, and maybe it comes back around to impact who you are in so-called “real life”? “I find myself constantly in a monkey in the middle game between who I am in real life and online. Though honestly I think they feed, complement and teach each other. I don't feel I have two opposing identities that are at odds, but one that is pushing and pulling and in flux. I am not sure who I am. And both my real life and online life reflect that. I am on a journey and I am taking my time at home and online to look around and see where to go next.

  3. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only person who struggles with this dual identity issue. I do notice, however, that more frustrated I am offline, the more negativity creeps into my online personality. I only have to read two or three of my most recent blog posts to discover that. Sadly, online me tends to disappear now and then when offline me is overscheduled or overwhelmed. Not exactly sure how to reconcile that. Great post.

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