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Do you dare put down the mask?

My first experiences online came before the web, and before most of the modern “nettiquette” was written. It was the days of ultra nerdy folks (like me), librarians, and academic PHD types in lab coats.

When people were not doing serious science type stuff there was a lot of socializing going on. There were hippy hangouts like “The Well”, where big brains were going to change the world, and hacker communities who were going to change the world in a different way. I was a teenager who didn’t fit into either class, I just wanted to chat about science fiction and download demo programs. When I discovered the internet I did the same things, and again when I discovered the World Wide Web.

Back then most people used a nickname when interacting online. I went through a few in the BBS years, and in my early dabbling in Usenet Newsgroups. I made my best online friends back then in the Red Dwarf newsgroup, and by that time I had abandoned using cool-sounding nicknames and just used “chrisg” or my full name. One friend who stands out in my mind from then is still a friend now over 15 years later, even though we interact now via Twitter. I only knew him by his nickname for over a year. In fact I think we might have met in person before discovering his actual name.

In all that time I stupidly didn’t really take any care over my online privacy. My online friends were much more cautious, but just because they used fake names does not mean they were faking anything else.

Psuedonym does not mean fake

Here is the distinction. I made real friendships with people who were being real, just without using their own names. Their intention was not to mislead. For some they wanted a cool name, for others it was just seen as the “done thing”.

If anything they were more “real” than a lot of people I am coming into contact with now.

I have been doing a lot of research about introverts for my forthcoming product, “Shy Networking”. One of the things I want to show and prove is that introverts can and do perform just fine online and in business networking without trying to be something they are not. As anyone who has met me knows, this is drawn from personal experience :)

The issue of people feeling they have to be something they are not in order to succeed troubles me, hence this post.

It’s not just the familiar story that Darren and I tell a lot, about people coming to us wanting to create “Make Money Online” blogs before they have earned their first dollar, though that is bad enough. It could apply to people creating fake personas for their online presence, but as I say above, I have no problem with that (though that is not my own preference), and I understand there are underlying reasons why people do that.

There are a few points I would like to make:

  1. You are good enough – Never feel like you are not “good enough”, “worth enough” or any of that self diminishing stuff.
  2. People want to connect with the real you – The real you is what is interesting and approachable, masks are just another barrier to people connecting with you. The more fake the mask, the more inhibited you will be.
  3. Get out of your own head – By focusing on the other people you will find that a) you can be really useful and b) lots of people have stuff in common with you.

Most of all, being yourself does not mean exposing everything personal and revealing any deep dark secrets.

You draw the line at what you do or do not share.

After I had been playing around online for a while, and had started to get serious with my side business of building websites for organisations, my wife and I decided some ground rules. Later when our daughter was born, more rules were added. In fact, from my daughters birth, I pretty much dropped offline for around a year, apart from work and small appearances here and there. When I have broken those rules it has been for good reason, and with full consultation and consideration from the both of us.

There have been only a tiny number of people who have not respected these specific areas of privacy, and those people were never the kind of people I would want to know or deal with anyway.

Share part of what makes you you

The fact is you do have to share something, but it does not need to be intimate or potentially damaging. It is these divulgences that form bridges between people. Things like your favourite author, team, band, movie, stage show, artist, are all things that people can make small talk with you about.

By being an authentic you there is much more potential for creating real connections with people, and through these connections opportunities and friendships. If you are faking it then you will either be found out at worst, or at best be unable to have great face to face meetings and successful joint projects.

Real people rock. If anything, I would always rather meet an imperfect human being than a fake robot. Be proud to be you, mistakes and all.

What do you think? Do you feel you have to hold back on your personality? Are people being fake around you? Does comparing yourself to others or expectations hold you back? Please share your thoughts in the comments …

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Comments

  1. And something I say a lot to people and I may blog this later today, is that “You are your secret weapon.” Be yourself and trust yourself.

    Humans are cool.

  2. And something I say a lot to people and I may blog this later today, is that “You are your secret weapon.” Be yourself and trust yourself.

    Humans are cool.

  3. Nice! :)

    I have a whole speech about chicken tikka masala with a similar message :)

  4. Nice! :)

    I have a whole speech about chicken tikka masala with a similar message :)

  5. Great points here Chris. I do remember the BBS days actually – chatting via IRCs etc. As a relative newcomer to social media (via my blog and other tools) I understand what you mean. When I first began to blog – it was challenging to incorporate my passion into writing fearing it might not make for “good enough” content. Over the last 6 months, I’ve found my most informal and “real” postings have received a lot more attention. Thanks again for the posts and your continued effort to spread the good word! ; )

  6. Great points here Chris. I do remember the BBS days actually – chatting via IRCs etc. As a relative newcomer to social media (via my blog and other tools) I understand what you mean. When I first began to blog – it was challenging to incorporate my passion into writing fearing it might not make for “good enough” content. Over the last 6 months, I’ve found my most informal and “real” postings have received a lot more attention. Thanks again for the posts and your continued effort to spread the good word! ; )

  7. Interesting topic this, and I’d add that for some reason it’s even easier to spot a fake on line than in person!

    My own experience of becoming a blogger relates to this. At the time I started blogging, we were having some serious financial issues thanks to the b*stard banks! I decided to start a blog, but took the decision to remain anonymous, partly because this is such a small island. The problem was, where I live and the things I do here are such a big part of my life, that it just didn’t work. I felt so liberated when I could start sharing aspects of my life once I came out!

    I agree there are many things that should and do remain private, but if you try to cut off the essence of who you are, people won’t find those interesting hooks, or worse, take you for a fake.

  8. Interesting topic this, and I’d add that for some reason it’s even easier to spot a fake on line than in person!

    My own experience of becoming a blogger relates to this. At the time I started blogging, we were having some serious financial issues thanks to the b*stard banks! I decided to start a blog, but took the decision to remain anonymous, partly because this is such a small island. The problem was, where I live and the things I do here are such a big part of my life, that it just didn’t work. I felt so liberated when I could start sharing aspects of my life once I came out!

    I agree there are many things that should and do remain private, but if you try to cut off the essence of who you are, people won’t find those interesting hooks, or worse, take you for a fake.

  9. Chris – I can’t wait for “Shy Networking”!

    I wonder how you define being an introvert. Many folks equate the term with being shy, but according to the Myers Briggs test, that’s not entirely accurate. The test defines introvert as a person who gets their energy from inside themselves, and extrovert as someone who needs to be around others in order to be refreshed.

    I’ve taken the test 5 times over the past 15 years and have consistently gotten an INFP type. Although I’m an “I”, I find it very easy to speak in front of a crowd and even play original music in bars, so one might expect me to be an extrovert. However, the truth is I need a good amount of time alone.

  10. Chris – I can’t wait for “Shy Networking”!

    I wonder how you define being an introvert. Many folks equate the term with being shy, but according to the Myers Briggs test, that’s not entirely accurate. The test defines introvert as a person who gets their energy from inside themselves, and extrovert as someone who needs to be around others in order to be refreshed.

    I’ve taken the test 5 times over the past 15 years and have consistently gotten an INFP type. Although I’m an “I”, I find it very easy to speak in front of a crowd and even play original music in bars, so one might expect me to be an extrovert. However, the truth is I need a good amount of time alone.

  11. As a fellow introvert I think we are some of the best people to know because we WON’T make stuff up or act like someone we are not – its just not something a true introvert could ever pull off!

    It pays to be real because a lie is so much harder to keep going – you have to always remember exactly what you said whereas with the truth you never do!

    Last weekend I read a book called Get Off Your Arse (by Brad Burton) about business networking – now the author is no introvert but he talks about people “cufflinking” – which is people who make up stuff about who they are and what they do. He hates it too. As a working class northener he is also very REAL with what he has to say!!!

    Its a great book and Brad keeps his networking real – no cufflinks, no suits (if you don’t want to) and no being scared about the competition.

    He likes people to just focus on “keeping it real” (as the American saying goes!)

    Diane

  12. As a fellow introvert I think we are some of the best people to know because we WON’T make stuff up or act like someone we are not – its just not something a true introvert could ever pull off!

    It pays to be real because a lie is so much harder to keep going – you have to always remember exactly what you said whereas with the truth you never do!

    Last weekend I read a book called Get Off Your Arse (by Brad Burton) about business networking – now the author is no introvert but he talks about people “cufflinking” – which is people who make up stuff about who they are and what they do. He hates it too. As a working class northener he is also very REAL with what he has to say!!!

    Its a great book and Brad keeps his networking real – no cufflinks, no suits (if you don’t want to) and no being scared about the competition.

    He likes people to just focus on “keeping it real” (as the American saying goes!)

    Diane

  13. Your point about “You are good enough” is so true.

    I’m pretty sure feeling self-conscious online affects everyone especially the first tweet/blog post/video they do – this can make you want to adopt a persona but trying to be someone you’re not will never work long term.

    I agree with Lyndon, humans are cool so keep being human.

  14. Your point about “You are good enough” is so true.

    I’m pretty sure feeling self-conscious online affects everyone especially the first tweet/blog post/video they do – this can make you want to adopt a persona but trying to be someone you’re not will never work long term.

    I agree with Lyndon, humans are cool so keep being human.

  15. @Miguel – I loved IRC, I think that is why I am so addicted to Twitter (and tweet too much, heh)

    @Mike – Yeah and when you seem to be hiding is when you give people an incentive to out you instead of you outing yourself in your own time.

    @John – I think introversion and shyness are separate but people often tend toward both. I’m INFP too :) http://chrisg.org/one-of-those-personality-things/ – I can and do speak in front of hundreds of people in convention rooms, and can talk in groups, but need to recharge my social batteries afterwards. On the other hand, my brother seems to come more alive the more people there are to bask in his awesomeness. Different strokes for different folks :)

    @Diane – I’m going to check out that book, sounds great :)

    @Simon – Exactly, it can make people try to fake something or think they have to, when the best results come from sharing the reality :)

  16. @Miguel – I loved IRC, I think that is why I am so addicted to Twitter (and tweet too much, heh)

    @Mike – Yeah and when you seem to be hiding is when you give people an incentive to out you instead of you outing yourself in your own time.

    @John – I think introversion and shyness are separate but people often tend toward both. I’m INFP too :) http://chrisg.org/one-of-those-personality-things/ – I can and do speak in front of hundreds of people in convention rooms, and can talk in groups, but need to recharge my social batteries afterwards. On the other hand, my brother seems to come more alive the more people there are to bask in his awesomeness. Different strokes for different folks :)

    @Diane – I’m going to check out that book, sounds great :)

    @Simon – Exactly, it can make people try to fake something or think they have to, when the best results come from sharing the reality :)

  17. Love this Chris. Can’t wait for Shy Networking. I am a true introvert and have always had a bit of trouble in any networking space – online and off. The best way for me to deal with it is just remember that there is no distinction between a “work” event and a social event with friends – on or offline. I don’t wear a mask or try to be perfect with my IRL friends, which is why I have them. I interact with people online and at work the same way.

    Great reminder.

    Melani

  18. Love this Chris. Can’t wait for Shy Networking. I am a true introvert and have always had a bit of trouble in any networking space – online and off. The best way for me to deal with it is just remember that there is no distinction between a “work” event and a social event with friends – on or offline. I don’t wear a mask or try to be perfect with my IRL friends, which is why I have them. I interact with people online and at work the same way.

    Great reminder.

    Melani

  19. Hi Chris,

    Chicken tikka masala is delicious.

    I tend to only hold back, in terms of my online presence, when I feel I am not being authentic. I don’t mind sharing a l little more than what I am comfortable with, but I have developed some strong boundaries, especially around my family at home.

    Because I am a writer, some of my long form writing does go into more personal things, but there is a larger and different goal than what I might try to say on line. I would also argue that book writing is very different than blog writing.
    devin

  20. Hi Chris,

    Chicken tikka masala is delicious.

    I tend to only hold back, in terms of my online presence, when I feel I am not being authentic. I don’t mind sharing a l little more than what I am comfortable with, but I have developed some strong boundaries, especially around my family at home.

    Because I am a writer, some of my long form writing does go into more personal things, but there is a larger and different goal than what I might try to say on line. I would also argue that book writing is very different than blog writing.
    devin

  21. @Melani – I think being natural no matter what the situation is easier and allows you to relax a bit. Obviously you might dress differently, whatch your language, and perhaps hold off on the booze, but the important part is you are still the same person regardless of meeting new business people or old friends :)

    @Devin – Expectations are different when writing for print, but I think the main differences with blog writing over any other time is the informality and the fact it is written in 1st person. I speak to you directly, rather than making it abstract and distant. This alone can help form a better connection.

  22. @Melani – I think being natural no matter what the situation is easier and allows you to relax a bit. Obviously you might dress differently, whatch your language, and perhaps hold off on the booze, but the important part is you are still the same person regardless of meeting new business people or old friends :)

    @Devin – Expectations are different when writing for print, but I think the main differences with blog writing over any other time is the informality and the fact it is written in 1st person. I speak to you directly, rather than making it abstract and distant. This alone can help form a better connection.

  23. Thank you for that thoughtful post, Chris. Amidst the bells and whistles of the marketplace, it can be hard to remember that the “real” me is the one who can give true value. And also that the real me is the one my readers want to hear from. As Lyndon said, each of us is our own secret weapon. Now, if we can just remember…

    Thanks again, both of you.

  24. I used to “hide” behind my Internet alias. I didn’t go for fake names, behind the callsign I never hid who I was, but I didn’t exactly advertise it either…

    Then I realized that I wanted people to know who the guy is behind the name, if they are interested in that, so I made it more visible. I even stopped using my “gamertag” (where the name originated and still stands), I started using my real name. And it’s been awesome. My blog URL, Twitter ID and such are still named “Zemalf”, but I’m very much Antti now :)

    People hear about identity thefts and think someone will come to their door if they see their name on some forum. I think that’s gonna happen, if it’s gonna happen, even if you use double-alias, and register from a public computer tbh.

    But my point is, and I believe that the anonymity of the Internet is coming to its end. We will see real people using their real names. Those hiding their identity will see their businesses going down, because people will go to the ones they trust, the ones they know (or at least see).

    Personally, I rarely pay attention to sites that are run by “no-one” (= blogs where even about page doesn’t show a photo and a real name behind the blog). I’m drawn into sites and blogs of real people, and I’m interested in hearing what they have to say. This is even more important if I’m looking for something to buy, either the brand needs to be strong or there has to be real person behind it all.

    We need to show example to those who are scared. Who have doubts to show their faces, their names. For me, it all starts with blog commenting. Real name. Real photo. 100% me.

  25. Thank you for that thoughtful post, Chris. Amidst the bells and whistles of the marketplace, it can be hard to remember that the “real” me is the one who can give true value. And also that the real me is the one my readers want to hear from. As Lyndon said, each of us is our own secret weapon. Now, if we can just remember…

    Thanks again, both of you.

  26. I used to “hide” behind my Internet alias. I didn’t go for fake names, behind the callsign I never hid who I was, but I didn’t exactly advertise it either…

    Then I realized that I wanted people to know who the guy is behind the name, if they are interested in that, so I made it more visible. I even stopped using my “gamertag” (where the name originated and still stands), I started using my real name. And it’s been awesome. My blog URL, Twitter ID and such are still named “Zemalf”, but I’m very much Antti now :)

    People hear about identity thefts and think someone will come to their door if they see their name on some forum. I think that’s gonna happen, if it’s gonna happen, even if you use double-alias, and register from a public computer tbh.

    But my point is, and I believe that the anonymity of the Internet is coming to its end. We will see real people using their real names. Those hiding their identity will see their businesses going down, because people will go to the ones they trust, the ones they know (or at least see).

    Personally, I rarely pay attention to sites that are run by “no-one” (= blogs where even about page doesn’t show a photo and a real name behind the blog). I’m drawn into sites and blogs of real people, and I’m interested in hearing what they have to say. This is even more important if I’m looking for something to buy, either the brand needs to be strong or there has to be real person behind it all.

    We need to show example to those who are scared. Who have doubts to show their faces, their names. For me, it all starts with blog commenting. Real name. Real photo. 100% me.

  27. @Lynda – Indeed, and there might be some pressure to be who you are not, but most people appreciate it when you are genuine, and can sense when things are not exactly as they seem.

    @Antti – I am the same, I lose interest if I can not identify an author, or at least do not trust it quite as much. I have a friend who makes a great deal of money while being anonymous, but he has to work hard to get millions of first time visitors because people are much less likely to stick around. It means he is completely wedded to Google, Reddit and Digg. I much prefer a smaller but more engaged audience of people who get to know and trust me :)

  28. @Lynda – Indeed, and there might be some pressure to be who you are not, but most people appreciate it when you are genuine, and can sense when things are not exactly as they seem.

    @Antti – I am the same, I lose interest if I can not identify an author, or at least do not trust it quite as much. I have a friend who makes a great deal of money while being anonymous, but he has to work hard to get millions of first time visitors because people are much less likely to stick around. It means he is completely wedded to Google, Reddit and Digg. I much prefer a smaller but more engaged audience of people who get to know and trust me :)

  29. Frank Dickinson says:

    What a great post Chris. A welcome thing as I start my day.

    I too started online way back when. My first experiences where in “Chat Rooms” (Poolside.com is still around!). Here, under the name “Milt” (my middle name is Milton), I was surprised to meet many people being totally “real” as they interacted.

    My best friends in the world are a Canadian couple I met at Poolside. My wife and I have spent many vacations with them in their wonderful home.

    Here’s a bit of sharing: I met my wife of almost 14 years at Poolside. Now how’s that for connection!

    My thoughts on why I have been able to connect and make friends online:

    Straight from the point of your post: I removed any mask and was me.

    Same with my wife. Same with our Canadian friends. Same with the many people I call “friend” on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  30. Frank Dickinson says:

    What a great post Chris. A welcome thing as I start my day.

    I too started online way back when. My first experiences where in “Chat Rooms” (Poolside.com is still around!). Here, under the name “Milt” (my middle name is Milton), I was surprised to meet many people being totally “real” as they interacted.

    My best friends in the world are a Canadian couple I met at Poolside. My wife and I have spent many vacations with them in their wonderful home.

    Here’s a bit of sharing: I met my wife of almost 14 years at Poolside. Now how’s that for connection!

    My thoughts on why I have been able to connect and make friends online:

    Straight from the point of your post: I removed any mask and was me.

    Same with my wife. Same with our Canadian friends. Same with the many people I call “friend” on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  31. @Frank – Exactly, you and your wife are proof that real connections are made when you are being real :)

  32. @Frank – Exactly, you and your wife are proof that real connections are made when you are being real :)

  33. Thanks for this topic. I really would LOVE some feedback on my situation surrounding this issue:

    My wife and I are considering starting a blog under our real names. We’re hesitant due to privacy issues and having kids–how safe are we? I know tons of folks have pretty personal blogs out there.

    I have a business blog intended to be a resource for my niche (I’m in consultative sales) under my real name, but for similar reasons, have been cautious to really push the thing.

    Finally, I have a separate business blog under a pseudonym to chronicle my sales successes or failures. I have it under a pseudonym for privacy purposes since I’d prefer my anecdotal material (vague as it may be) to be at least a step or two removed from my real world clients. If they google me, I’d hate for them to see me break down the elements of a sales call that might look suspiciously similar to an appointment I had with them.

    Not sure my question. Maybe: How is privacy from a safety perspective handled? How is privacy from a business perspective handled?

  34. Thanks for this topic. I really would LOVE some feedback on my situation surrounding this issue:

    My wife and I are considering starting a blog under our real names. We’re hesitant due to privacy issues and having kids–how safe are we? I know tons of folks have pretty personal blogs out there.

    I have a business blog intended to be a resource for my niche (I’m in consultative sales) under my real name, but for similar reasons, have been cautious to really push the thing.

    Finally, I have a separate business blog under a pseudonym to chronicle my sales successes or failures. I have it under a pseudonym for privacy purposes since I’d prefer my anecdotal material (vague as it may be) to be at least a step or two removed from my real world clients. If they google me, I’d hate for them to see me break down the elements of a sales call that might look suspiciously similar to an appointment I had with them.

    Not sure my question. Maybe: How is privacy from a safety perspective handled? How is privacy from a business perspective handled?

  35. @Brett – Family is one area I draw the line. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so better to stay on the over cautious side rather than the other way. There are lots of weirdos out there so I don’t share pictures of my family. I even had lewd comments made on Flickr about my mum (apparently there are people who search the internets for photographs tagged with “mum” or “mother” … sick). Confidentiality also comes into play, you will notice I very rarely talk about clients, and then only when they have agreed or have already made public our business relationship.

  36. @Brett – Family is one area I draw the line. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so better to stay on the over cautious side rather than the other way. There are lots of weirdos out there so I don’t share pictures of my family. I even had lewd comments made on Flickr about my mum (apparently there are people who search the internets for photographs tagged with “mum” or “mother” … sick). Confidentiality also comes into play, you will notice I very rarely talk about clients, and then only when they have agreed or have already made public our business relationship.

  37. You have put this so nicely. I am still reeling from a critique of my new blog telling me that I am probably a spam blog, and that my blog will never be successful because I am too anonymous. Maybe the person who wrote the critique is right. However, I got a lot more out of this article than I did from the guy who wrote the “bully” critique.
    I do have to work on that aspect of my blog, and I am glad that I came across your low-key, “non-bullying” approach.

    Thanks!

  38. You have put this so nicely. I am still reeling from a critique of my new blog telling me that I am probably a spam blog, and that my blog will never be successful because I am too anonymous. Maybe the person who wrote the critique is right. However, I got a lot more out of this article than I did from the guy who wrote the “bully” critique.
    I do have to work on that aspect of my blog, and I am glad that I came across your low-key, “non-bullying” approach.

    Thanks!

  39. @chrisg Thanks for the feedback. In my informational blog, I’m trying to keep things vague, but use real life situations so that the transferrable concept will be helpful. I might still run those vague situations (i.e. a vague reference to a conversation) by the person I spoke with prior to posting. If nothing else, it might help promote the online presence and encourage trust and a closer relationship w/ that client.

  40. @chrisg Thanks for the feedback. In my informational blog, I’m trying to keep things vague, but use real life situations so that the transferrable concept will be helpful. I might still run those vague situations (i.e. a vague reference to a conversation) by the person I spoke with prior to posting. If nothing else, it might help promote the online presence and encourage trust and a closer relationship w/ that client.

  41. A lot of very valid points here and in the comments. I actually use a different family surname online because my real surname is shared by someone who also works as a coach and it was getting very confusing. I don’t hide who I am, but as you say, I set boundaries. I suspect this might be especially important for females.

    As a borderline introvert, I really value the ability to think about what I say before I open my mouth – it actually allows me to be more true to myself because it’s more considered.

  42. A lot of very valid points here and in the comments. I actually use a different family surname online because my real surname is shared by someone who also works as a coach and it was getting very confusing. I don’t hide who I am, but as you say, I set boundaries. I suspect this might be especially important for females.

    As a borderline introvert, I really value the ability to think about what I say before I open my mouth – it actually allows me to be more true to myself because it’s more considered.

  43. I’m reminded of the attitude toward home-based businesses that used to prevail in the ’80s and 90s, back when home-based businesses were far less common. Self-employed people were strongly advised to present as if loaded with staff and lodged in a shiny chrome office tower – anything to obfuscate the shameful truth of being a solopreneur at the kitchen table!

    Turns out not to be at all necessary – or wise. Smart clients prefer to know exactly who they’re trusting with their projects, and a false image will always ring just a bit false to them.

    “Good enough” – yes, indeed. And either you and your skillset are a good match for a particular client, or not. Putting up a false image just makes it harder to find your “right” clients and build a good long-term working relationship.

  44. I’m reminded of the attitude toward home-based businesses that used to prevail in the ’80s and 90s, back when home-based businesses were far less common. Self-employed people were strongly advised to present as if loaded with staff and lodged in a shiny chrome office tower – anything to obfuscate the shameful truth of being a solopreneur at the kitchen table!

    Turns out not to be at all necessary – or wise. Smart clients prefer to know exactly who they’re trusting with their projects, and a false image will always ring just a bit false to them.

    “Good enough” – yes, indeed. And either you and your skillset are a good match for a particular client, or not. Putting up a false image just makes it harder to find your “right” clients and build a good long-term working relationship.

  45. I liked point #3 particularly. Last night some people were asking me questions about how to behave on Twitter and I was encouraging them just to share helpful things and not worry about trying to “promote their businesses.” Having an attitude of helpfulness means you don’t have to obsess about how you’re presenting yourself. Your real personality will come through…

  46. I liked point #3 particularly. Last night some people were asking me questions about how to behave on Twitter and I was encouraging them just to share helpful things and not worry about trying to “promote their businesses.” Having an attitude of helpfulness means you don’t have to obsess about how you’re presenting yourself. Your real personality will come through…

  47. Thanks Chris. I’m not quite sure what it says about me…but I love putting myself out there on my blog. And I want to be HONEST. And I really want people to be alive and honest there too. I’m a newbie- so not a lot of readers. But I’m loving the process. Thanks for your post! Megan

  48. Thanks Chris. I’m not quite sure what it says about me…but I love putting myself out there on my blog. And I want to be HONEST. And I really want people to be alive and honest there too. I’m a newbie- so not a lot of readers. But I’m loving the process. Thanks for your post! Megan

  49. Thanks Chris!

    I really needed to read this post today.

    I just started a new blog and now I’m promoting it.

    I have been confused on just being myself or being my business self.My business self is all business and not really what people want to connect with so I decided just to be myself. Ofcourse business is still apart of me but my personality shows when just being me.

    If any of that makes sense :)

  50. Thanks Chris!

    I really needed to read this post today.

    I just started a new blog and now I’m promoting it.

    I have been confused on just being myself or being my business self.My business self is all business and not really what people want to connect with so I decided just to be myself. Ofcourse business is still apart of me but my personality shows when just being me.

    If any of that makes sense :)

  51. Hell, my own blog didn’t take off really until I started to be myself. I’m not real good with Pseudonyms, but I’ve had a few. I’d mention them here, but I can’t afford to be laughed out this place :D

  52. Hell, my own blog didn’t take off really until I started to be myself. I’m not real good with Pseudonyms, but I’ve had a few. I’d mention them here, but I can’t afford to be laughed out this place :D

  53. I was pretty cautious online and hid behind screen names. From 1983 to 2006, I made it difficult to match up my personal posts online with me or with my management consulting business.

    I came out as a real person and let my consulting clients learn a lot more about my personal life when I wrote the Author bio page on my Assume Love marriage education blog and started signing almost everything with my real name.

    It’s easier not to be so guarded when I write, but it sure does add to the email load and the need for network security.
    Like you, Chris, I am still guarded when talking about my family. And I try hard not to grumble or snarl online. That is such a temporary feeling. Who wants to get a Google Alert about it a day later?

    Good topic. Thanks!

  54. I was pretty cautious online and hid behind screen names. From 1983 to 2006, I made it difficult to match up my personal posts online with me or with my management consulting business.

    I came out as a real person and let my consulting clients learn a lot more about my personal life when I wrote the Author bio page on my Assume Love marriage education blog and started signing almost everything with my real name.

    It’s easier not to be so guarded when I write, but it sure does add to the email load and the need for network security.
    Like you, Chris, I am still guarded when talking about my family. And I try hard not to grumble or snarl online. That is such a temporary feeling. Who wants to get a Google Alert about it a day later?

    Good topic. Thanks!

  55. If anything, I would always rather meet an imperfect human being than a fake robot. Be proud to be you, mistakes and all.

    That just about sums it up. It’s best to be yourself, but you have to know when too much private life is not a good idea.

  56. If anything, I would always rather meet an imperfect human being than a fake robot. Be proud to be you, mistakes and all.

    That just about sums it up. It’s best to be yourself, but you have to know when too much private life is not a good idea.

  57. I’m not shy, nor am I an introvert, but boy, did I need that reminder today. I have been very overwhelmed lately by all of the big personalities on the internet, and started getting that “I’m not good enough, and nobody is listening anyway” feeling. It’s very discouraging to feel that way when you’ve just barely gotten started.

    Thanks for the pick me up!

    Debbie Ferm

  58. I’m not shy, nor am I an introvert, but boy, did I need that reminder today. I have been very overwhelmed lately by all of the big personalities on the internet, and started getting that “I’m not good enough, and nobody is listening anyway” feeling. It’s very discouraging to feel that way when you’ve just barely gotten started.

    Thanks for the pick me up!

    Debbie Ferm

  59. I found myself nodding just about all the way through this (it occurred to me about half-way through that you can’t actually see me, so I thought I’d let you know). I find I’m MORE of my true self online than I feel either free to be or safe to be in the real world. Online interaction served as a ‘clean slate’ for me ~ I love it. Having said that, I do have some boundaries – and strive never to over-expose. I do think your advice transfers well to ‘3D Life’ living as well ~ too many get caught up in their roles (or the roles they’re interacting with), losing sight of the fact that they’re dealing with human beings who deserve their full essence and attention. I’m grateful to have read this today Chris, thank you.

  60. I found myself nodding just about all the way through this (it occurred to me about half-way through that you can’t actually see me, so I thought I’d let you know). I find I’m MORE of my true self online than I feel either free to be or safe to be in the real world. Online interaction served as a ‘clean slate’ for me ~ I love it. Having said that, I do have some boundaries – and strive never to over-expose. I do think your advice transfers well to ‘3D Life’ living as well ~ too many get caught up in their roles (or the roles they’re interacting with), losing sight of the fact that they’re dealing with human beings who deserve their full essence and attention. I’m grateful to have read this today Chris, thank you.

  61. Many people would never guess that I am introverted, but it’s true. Speaking in front of groups, making videos, and teaching is not the same thing at all as being extroverted. I can easily speak in front of hundreds of people, but at a party, I tend to hang back and be a wallflower (and leave early).

    I’ve chosen to share some personal things about me online because we’re all human beings and business is only a part of the human experience. I choose to share my taste in music (electronica), movies & books (science fiction & fantasy, business, etc.), and even some things about my family and personal life. Sometimes my political or spiritual views come to the fore. It seems to be a good idea so far. :)

  62. Many people would never guess that I am introverted, but it’s true. Speaking in front of groups, making videos, and teaching is not the same thing at all as being extroverted. I can easily speak in front of hundreds of people, but at a party, I tend to hang back and be a wallflower (and leave early).

    I’ve chosen to share some personal things about me online because we’re all human beings and business is only a part of the human experience. I choose to share my taste in music (electronica), movies & books (science fiction & fantasy, business, etc.), and even some things about my family and personal life. Sometimes my political or spiritual views come to the fore. It seems to be a good idea so far. :)

  63. Ok, that’s strange that you and I are both INFPs. Makes me want to get a t-shirt made for SOBCon: “Chris Garrett and I are INFPs”

  64. Ok, that’s strange that you and I are both INFPs. Makes me want to get a t-shirt made for SOBCon: “Chris Garrett and I are INFPs”

  65. I’m an INTJ – be there were quite a few of those around in the early days too.

    Fake really turns me off. I think some of the blogs I find fake are written by bloggers who don’t intend to be – tricky.

  66. I’m an INTJ – be there were quite a few of those around in the early days too.

    Fake really turns me off. I think some of the blogs I find fake are written by bloggers who don’t intend to be – tricky.

  67. In November 2009 I started a blog column, Coming To Terms With Humanness, to share my personal essays about my attempts at learning to live my life with more honesty, acceptance, and gratitude.
    Because I thought few people would see the blog anyway, I went ahead and posted a photograph and used my real name as my website URL.
    Two and a half weeks after starting the blog, my local newspaper agreed to publish my column, at both their on-line site and in print, and they wanted a mugshot. Now many people would see me. Know me. And that scared me.
    But readers believe non-fiction writers are more relatable, and more apt to be honest, if they use both their real names and their photographs. And because I really want to help other people with my column, I know it’s important to put myself out there–so both my blog and the newspaper run my photo.
    So far the response has been great. I’m still amazed when people take the time to write me by e-mail or by leaving comments. And they’re always supportive.
    All in all, giving up my anonymity has been a positive experience.

  68. In November 2009 I started a blog column, Coming To Terms With Humanness, to share my personal essays about my attempts at learning to live my life with more honesty, acceptance, and gratitude.
    Because I thought few people would see the blog anyway, I went ahead and posted a photograph and used my real name as my website URL.
    Two and a half weeks after starting the blog, my local newspaper agreed to publish my column, at both their on-line site and in print, and they wanted a mugshot. Now many people would see me. Know me. And that scared me.
    But readers believe non-fiction writers are more relatable, and more apt to be honest, if they use both their real names and their photographs. And because I really want to help other people with my column, I know it’s important to put myself out there–so both my blog and the newspaper run my photo.
    So far the response has been great. I’m still amazed when people take the time to write me by e-mail or by leaving comments. And they’re always supportive.
    All in all, giving up my anonymity has been a positive experience.

  69. Great Post! I can relate to this very much.

    I used to be and still am an introvert. I have spent many years trying to turn myself into an extrovert, this macho person, an Alpha male and so on. I though it would make me happy and fulfilled.

    There was only one problem: I hated it. What I was doing was not me, it made me sad and made me feel empty on the inside. Everywhere I went and everything I did, there was always somebody telling me the right way to be, right things to say, and so on. There always seemed to be a correct way of doing everything from interviewing, to talking to people, to dating women.

    Until, I finally had enough and realized that I will just be me and bring out the best parts of me and display myself in such a way that I will still be able to stand out without selling myself out.

    Thanks for a great article! It is well needed in this world where the norm becomes putting on a fake mask and hiding yourself behind it. Being somebody else is just too much work and too much misery.

    Best,
    Tomas

  70. Great Post! I can relate to this very much.

    I used to be and still am an introvert. I have spent many years trying to turn myself into an extrovert, this macho person, an Alpha male and so on. I though it would make me happy and fulfilled.

    There was only one problem: I hated it. What I was doing was not me, it made me sad and made me feel empty on the inside. Everywhere I went and everything I did, there was always somebody telling me the right way to be, right things to say, and so on. There always seemed to be a correct way of doing everything from interviewing, to talking to people, to dating women.

    Until, I finally had enough and realized that I will just be me and bring out the best parts of me and display myself in such a way that I will still be able to stand out without selling myself out.

    Thanks for a great article! It is well needed in this world where the norm becomes putting on a fake mask and hiding yourself behind it. Being somebody else is just too much work and too much misery.

    Best,
    Tomas

  71. Yep! I have a monopoly on being me. (Something for which most people are probably thankful! :P )

  72. Yep! I have a monopoly on being me. (Something for which most people are probably thankful! :P )

  73. The first time I read this, I didn’t understand the message you were trying to convey. I think I get it this time. I believe it’s about being transparent but not too personal about details.

    I feel very strongly about blog authors being very human. Even to the point of using their real photos on their About page and every other social networking sites that they participate in.

    Using something else other than your real photo really puts me off and lowers your credibility. I can’t help but get the feeling that the blog authors actually have something to hide.

  74. The first time I read this, I didn’t understand the message you were trying to convey. I think I get it this time. I believe it’s about being transparent but not too personal about details.

    I feel very strongly about blog authors being very human. Even to the point of using their real photos on their About page and every other social networking sites that they participate in.

    Using something else other than your real photo really puts me off and lowers your credibility. I can’t help but get the feeling that the blog authors actually have something to hide.

  75. Great post. My husband, who is from Barbados, calls this “false faces,” as he recently described a meeting we attended. I think it IS all about being authentic. I find that when I write that way, the response is much greater than if I try to be someone I’m not.

  76. Great post. My husband, who is from Barbados, calls this “false faces,” as he recently described a meeting we attended. I think it IS all about being authentic. I find that when I write that way, the response is much greater than if I try to be someone I’m not.

  77. This really hit me, so much so that this is only third comment I’ve ever made on any blog. I’m working on my own blog, but haven’t promoted it yet, because I’m still unsure about going out under a pseudonym.

    I currently write under a pseudonym (1) for reasons you mentioned, including extreme shyness and (2) because the blog has a certain character and so does my persona. I don’t hide myself at all, just my real name. Actually, in many ways, the persona is more the real me because she’s not shy. :)

    I’m definitely looking forward to “Shy Networking” so I can sort out my schizophrenic blog.

  78. This really hit me, so much so that this is only third comment I’ve ever made on any blog. I’m working on my own blog, but haven’t promoted it yet, because I’m still unsure about going out under a pseudonym.

    I currently write under a pseudonym (1) for reasons you mentioned, including extreme shyness and (2) because the blog has a certain character and so does my persona. I don’t hide myself at all, just my real name. Actually, in many ways, the persona is more the real me because she’s not shy. :)

    I’m definitely looking forward to “Shy Networking” so I can sort out my schizophrenic blog.

  79. When I started blogging as myself (as opposed to blogging for my Day Job) it was really terrifying. Like being exposed all the time. Once I got past the terror, I started to really enjoy the authenticity. I got a huge amount of surprisingly positive, encouraging feedback.

    Now I find that the authenticity online has spread to real life. I think I’m making more honest connections offline. Cultivating authenticity online makes having a mask offline uncomfortable.

    Great post. Thank you.

  80. When I started blogging as myself (as opposed to blogging for my Day Job) it was really terrifying. Like being exposed all the time. Once I got past the terror, I started to really enjoy the authenticity. I got a huge amount of surprisingly positive, encouraging feedback.

    Now I find that the authenticity online has spread to real life. I think I’m making more honest connections offline. Cultivating authenticity online makes having a mask offline uncomfortable.

    Great post. Thank you.

  81. Personally I have found the internet to be liberating. I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and talk about a world of fakes! I’ve spent my whole life censoring my authentic self expression. I had social phobia during my 20’s. I’m an INFJ, so on the shy side and not into big crowds. But with the Internet I can be me, and the pool is so large that there are so many like me. Those who disagree have plenty of other places to hang out. Being online has helped me be more comfortable with who I am. I also draw the line at family though. I never post photos or mention my kid’s names in public forums.

    I did a whirl of online dating before meeting my husband (umm… Yeah, I did meet him online). I was stunned at the level of dishonesty. What I came to realize as I went on way too many first dates is these people really believe “the end justifies the means.” The guys who were after a one-night-stand would lie. They said whatever they thought they had to. The honest guys were just themselves, and didn’t always shine so bright between those fake bulbs. But isn’t that just like real life?

    I do think the mainstream adoption of social media is bringing internet anonymity to an end (as Antti stated). I tell clients all the time to research their online presence. If you’ve been mentioned anywhere, even in the yellow pages, you’ve got an online presence! And what we do and say online will last forever in this cyberspace we cannot even physically touch.

  82. Personally I have found the internet to be liberating. I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and talk about a world of fakes! I’ve spent my whole life censoring my authentic self expression. I had social phobia during my 20’s. I’m an INFJ, so on the shy side and not into big crowds. But with the Internet I can be me, and the pool is so large that there are so many like me. Those who disagree have plenty of other places to hang out. Being online has helped me be more comfortable with who I am. I also draw the line at family though. I never post photos or mention my kid’s names in public forums.

    I did a whirl of online dating before meeting my husband (umm… Yeah, I did meet him online). I was stunned at the level of dishonesty. What I came to realize as I went on way too many first dates is these people really believe “the end justifies the means.” The guys who were after a one-night-stand would lie. They said whatever they thought they had to. The honest guys were just themselves, and didn’t always shine so bright between those fake bulbs. But isn’t that just like real life?

    I do think the mainstream adoption of social media is bringing internet anonymity to an end (as Antti stated). I tell clients all the time to research their online presence. If you’ve been mentioned anywhere, even in the yellow pages, you’ve got an online presence! And what we do and say online will last forever in this cyberspace we cannot even physically touch.

  83. Chris….. no-one, and I mean no-one should need permission to be themselves, and we should not need a mask to be ourselves.

    As for fakery etc…. your integrity is the only thing you TRULY own in this world, and as mentioned above.. your online presence is there for all to see if they care to look, so you should guard your integrity like your life.

    Appreciate the wisdom in this post.

  84. Chris….. no-one, and I mean no-one should need permission to be themselves, and we should not need a mask to be ourselves.

    As for fakery etc…. your integrity is the only thing you TRULY own in this world, and as mentioned above.. your online presence is there for all to see if they care to look, so you should guard your integrity like your life.

    Appreciate the wisdom in this post.

  85. Love this post. I have a lot of novelist friends who’ve chosen to use a pseudonym professionally, and have good reasons for doing so. Since I’ve become interested in social media, I’ve found I have the opposite problem. I have to hold myself back from over sharing and being too enthusiastic. It tends to turn people off. But, then, I’ve never called myself an introvert. :-)

    The only exception would be my daughter. I never use her name or give any identifying characteristics.

    I can’t wait to read your new product, and share it with some of my “shy” friends. :-)

  86. Love this post. I have a lot of novelist friends who’ve chosen to use a pseudonym professionally, and have good reasons for doing so. Since I’ve become interested in social media, I’ve found I have the opposite problem. I have to hold myself back from over sharing and being too enthusiastic. It tends to turn people off. But, then, I’ve never called myself an introvert. :-)

    The only exception would be my daughter. I never use her name or give any identifying characteristics.

    I can’t wait to read your new product, and share it with some of my “shy” friends. :-)

  87. @Ladyexpat – glad you found this useful :)

    @Brett – In most cases you can get away with being vague, but sometimes clients might disagree so best either removing any doubt or talking to them first.

    @Tess – I like to think things through before saying them too (engage brain before mouth), sometimes when I have tried to be more outgoing than I really am is when my mouth has gotten me into trouble :)

    @Rebecca – Totally! Before I put my consulting pages on this site I was using my company name which had “we”, “team” type language – people actually were put off buying because they needed reassurance that they would be working with me and not palmed off to a “colleague”. So I ditched the company site and put it all under my name :D

    @Joe – Exactly, if you are constantly having to think what image you want to project then you leave little brain time to listen to the conversation

    @Megan – Enjoying it is half the battle I think :)

    @Melissa – Makes perfect sense :)

    @Nathan – We would only laugh *with* you :)

    @Patty – Great stuff :) I am still guilty of the occasional moan but I am getting better at it ;)

    @Michael – Fact is you can normally find safe facts and anecdotes, because when it is clear your intentions are authentic and honest, the boundaries are more respected and the communication becomes easier.

    @Debbie – I am finding that often the personalities that seem big online just have a bigger megaphone :D When you meet them in real life they are just the same as you or I :)

    @Sally – Good point. We are not just roles taking part in transactions but people. Just recognising the humanity in all our interactions would help everything from customer service to road rage ;)

    @Michael – I can recall hanging at the back of one party with you – I think there are even photgraphs somewhere ;)

    @John – Or maybe “INFP – Handle with care” ;)

    @Evan – I think a distinction can be made between those wanting to decieve and those that seem fake by accident. We can’t know the intentions and what *seems* fake is not necessarily so. It is, and should be, a need-to-know basis :) We don’t expect or have a right to know everything. Some are also going for a certain character or art intending to amuse or spark dialog. For example nobody is going to criticize “Fake Steve Jobs” or “Stephen Colbert” for playing a character, but if I found out Scott Adams blog wasn’t really Scott Adams I would be gutted.

    @Janis – That was a brave and bold step, congratulations :)

    @Tomas – The whole macho thing is strange. Whenver I admit that I know nothing about sports or power tools, and all the other macho stereotypes more and more guys come out of the woodwork and admit they don’t care for it either. Seems macho men are a highly visible and vocal minority :)

    @Zoe – It would be boring if you didn’t :)

    @Rezdwan – Sometimes all they have to hide is vulnerability, but sometimes there is no real author and the content is stolen, and unfortunately that damages trust for everyone :/

    @Kathy – I like that “false faces” – cool

    @Elle – Cool, glad you chose to comment here and hope you will come back again :)

    @Deanna – We can easily get into habits, good and bad, and I find being yourself and feeling that people can take you as you are is a good habit to get into :) There are enough people in the world that you can afford to socialize with the ones who “get you”, although work can be a bit trickier sometimes.

    @Bonnie – I often wonder how those dating site fakers think they can get away with the real world side :) And it’s not just the men – I once read a rant by a lady who had used a fake photo in her profile (a model-like friend of hers) then ranted and raved about her blind date being shallow for leaving right away when he found out he had be duped – as if HE was the dishonest one. Um, what was he supposed to do? Is it a good idea to start a relationship based on false advertising? ;)

    @Mick – I wonder if it is a symptom of all the short term thinking we see around us today? From “make money fast” through to “put it on your credit card and worry about paying it off later”. Fakery is a very short term tactic that catches up in the end.

    @ChelleWrites – Novelists I think are a special case where it is often expected that they use a made up name. Actors are another. It comes back to intentions and the impact you have, and also learning when it is appropriate to switch it off. Of course, sometimes people start to lose their real identity too. With the sharing and enthusiasm, I don’t think it turns people off, more for introverts there is only so much energy we can take at once, and we drain our batteries quicker, or fear we will, when confronted by a full-on extrovert. When I used to come home after my commute my wife used to offload her entire day to me in the space of about 10 minutes. I would feel shell shocked afterwards! :) There are coping strategies for the introvert, but for an extrovert just being aware is usually enough :)

  88. @Ladyexpat – glad you found this useful :)

    @Brett – In most cases you can get away with being vague, but sometimes clients might disagree so best either removing any doubt or talking to them first.

    @Tess – I like to think things through before saying them too (engage brain before mouth), sometimes when I have tried to be more outgoing than I really am is when my mouth has gotten me into trouble :)

    @Rebecca – Totally! Before I put my consulting pages on this site I was using my company name which had “we”, “team” type language – people actually were put off buying because they needed reassurance that they would be working with me and not palmed off to a “colleague”. So I ditched the company site and put it all under my name :D

    @Joe – Exactly, if you are constantly having to think what image you want to project then you leave little brain time to listen to the conversation

    @Megan – Enjoying it is half the battle I think :)

    @Melissa – Makes perfect sense :)

    @Nathan – We would only laugh *with* you :)

    @Patty – Great stuff :) I am still guilty of the occasional moan but I am getting better at it ;)

    @Michael – Fact is you can normally find safe facts and anecdotes, because when it is clear your intentions are authentic and honest, the boundaries are more respected and the communication becomes easier.

    @Debbie – I am finding that often the personalities that seem big online just have a bigger megaphone :D When you meet them in real life they are just the same as you or I :)

    @Sally – Good point. We are not just roles taking part in transactions but people. Just recognising the humanity in all our interactions would help everything from customer service to road rage ;)

    @Michael – I can recall hanging at the back of one party with you – I think there are even photgraphs somewhere ;)

    @John – Or maybe “INFP – Handle with care” ;)

    @Evan – I think a distinction can be made between those wanting to decieve and those that seem fake by accident. We can’t know the intentions and what *seems* fake is not necessarily so. It is, and should be, a need-to-know basis :) We don’t expect or have a right to know everything. Some are also going for a certain character or art intending to amuse or spark dialog. For example nobody is going to criticize “Fake Steve Jobs” or “Stephen Colbert” for playing a character, but if I found out Scott Adams blog wasn’t really Scott Adams I would be gutted.

    @Janis – That was a brave and bold step, congratulations :)

    @Tomas – The whole macho thing is strange. Whenver I admit that I know nothing about sports or power tools, and all the other macho stereotypes more and more guys come out of the woodwork and admit they don’t care for it either. Seems macho men are a highly visible and vocal minority :)

    @Zoe – It would be boring if you didn’t :)

    @Rezdwan – Sometimes all they have to hide is vulnerability, but sometimes there is no real author and the content is stolen, and unfortunately that damages trust for everyone :/

    @Kathy – I like that “false faces” – cool

    @Elle – Cool, glad you chose to comment here and hope you will come back again :)

    @Deanna – We can easily get into habits, good and bad, and I find being yourself and feeling that people can take you as you are is a good habit to get into :) There are enough people in the world that you can afford to socialize with the ones who “get you”, although work can be a bit trickier sometimes.

    @Bonnie – I often wonder how those dating site fakers think they can get away with the real world side :) And it’s not just the men – I once read a rant by a lady who had used a fake photo in her profile (a model-like friend of hers) then ranted and raved about her blind date being shallow for leaving right away when he found out he had be duped – as if HE was the dishonest one. Um, what was he supposed to do? Is it a good idea to start a relationship based on false advertising? ;)

    @Mick – I wonder if it is a symptom of all the short term thinking we see around us today? From “make money fast” through to “put it on your credit card and worry about paying it off later”. Fakery is a very short term tactic that catches up in the end.

    @ChelleWrites – Novelists I think are a special case where it is often expected that they use a made up name. Actors are another. It comes back to intentions and the impact you have, and also learning when it is appropriate to switch it off. Of course, sometimes people start to lose their real identity too. With the sharing and enthusiasm, I don’t think it turns people off, more for introverts there is only so much energy we can take at once, and we drain our batteries quicker, or fear we will, when confronted by a full-on extrovert. When I used to come home after my commute my wife used to offload her entire day to me in the space of about 10 minutes. I would feel shell shocked afterwards! :) There are coping strategies for the introvert, but for an extrovert just being aware is usually enough :)

  89. I started out using psuedonyms, but found them too hard to keep track of. Another aspect I haven’t seen touched on is separating professional and personal opinion – especially of a political and religious nature.

    After some dithering, I decided that I’m a whole, integrated person. My personal worldview is just as much a part of who I am just as my professional competence. If people discount my professional contributions because they disagree with my personal opinions, that’s their loss. (A side benefit is that it makes me *far* less likely to engage in online name-calling.) After all, one can acknolwedge Noam Chomsky’s contributions to lingustics regardless of one’s opinion of his political views.

    While I’m open about who I am, I’m very circumspect regarding my family. Online, I refer to my kids by code names, and the few places I’ve posted pictures of them are restricted to invited friends and family.

  90. I started out using psuedonyms, but found them too hard to keep track of. Another aspect I haven’t seen touched on is separating professional and personal opinion – especially of a political and religious nature.

    After some dithering, I decided that I’m a whole, integrated person. My personal worldview is just as much a part of who I am just as my professional competence. If people discount my professional contributions because they disagree with my personal opinions, that’s their loss. (A side benefit is that it makes me *far* less likely to engage in online name-calling.) After all, one can acknolwedge Noam Chomsky’s contributions to lingustics regardless of one’s opinion of his political views.

    While I’m open about who I am, I’m very circumspect regarding my family. Online, I refer to my kids by code names, and the few places I’ve posted pictures of them are restricted to invited friends and family.

  91. Great post – I’m eager to see your final product! I wanted to enter the conversation with one point I haven’t seen yet: Google.

    I used to be very careful about what I put online, rarely using my real name in anything. I actually began to respond to my online nickname in public, since that was sometimes how people I met knew me best!

    Then Google came onto the scene, and as I moved through jobs, volunteer commitments, and other personal interests, I learned that I was definitely not anonymous.

    So much of life is publicly documented in ways we have no control over – whatever my wishes, one Google search a number of years ago proved my ‘maskless face’ was already out there!

    As I become more active in public forums like Twitter, I still wrestle with issues of disclosure; it’s easier to cling to the mask. But I’ve also realized that I personally give little credence to those who don’t connect what they’re saying with themselves.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion!

  92. Great post – I’m eager to see your final product! I wanted to enter the conversation with one point I haven’t seen yet: Google.

    I used to be very careful about what I put online, rarely using my real name in anything. I actually began to respond to my online nickname in public, since that was sometimes how people I met knew me best!

    Then Google came onto the scene, and as I moved through jobs, volunteer commitments, and other personal interests, I learned that I was definitely not anonymous.

    So much of life is publicly documented in ways we have no control over – whatever my wishes, one Google search a number of years ago proved my ‘maskless face’ was already out there!

    As I become more active in public forums like Twitter, I still wrestle with issues of disclosure; it’s easier to cling to the mask. But I’ve also realized that I personally give little credence to those who don’t connect what they’re saying with themselves.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion!

  93. This is such a great article… many people do feel the need to be fake online to be more entertaining. But why are reality shows so popular? Because we get to see different sides of people in their natural environment. The truth is more entertaining than fiction anyway. I look forward to reading your shy networking articles!

  94. This is such a great article… many people do feel the need to be fake online to be more entertaining. But why are reality shows so popular? Because we get to see different sides of people in their natural environment. The truth is more entertaining than fiction anyway. I look forward to reading your shy networking articles!

  95. I don’t ever pretend to be something I’m not. I am a bit different in person than I am online. On the Web words can be misconstrued and shades of meaning missed, so I’m thoughtful and careful with my communication.

  96. I don’t ever pretend to be something I’m not. I am a bit different in person than I am online. On the Web words can be misconstrued and shades of meaning missed, so I’m thoughtful and careful with my communication.

  97. Wow, just what the doctor ordered! Excellent points, Chris and a post I particularly appreciated, as you might imagine. ;)

    Like you, I got started online back in the days of BBSes when using pseudonyms really WAS the way you did things. You used a handle or nick and that was that. And the cooler your handle, the better. I always wanted to be a Sysop, but never quite made it…

    And also, like you, I happen to be a solid INFP, but I’m energized by teaching. Sometimes I test as an ENFJ or ENFP so who knows.

    For me the issue has always been about privacy and safety. (Well OK, it’s also about the me-looking-dumb-factor.) :)

    But truly, we’ve never had an internet in the history of the human race and so it’s still sorting itself out in terms of far-reaching effects and ways it’s changing our world culture.

    Admittedly I worry about the permanent nature of everything that’s posted. I know it’s just pure hubris to think that anyone would even care that I said something stupid, but that doesn’t stop my Ego from flailing away at me just before I hit the send/post button. :)

    That indelible and public nature of the ’Net is still a bit of a weird thing for me to deal with, strangely enough. I think about it a lot in terms of democracy and our freedoms. And even the small factor of allowing ourselves our human foibles such that they’re not held against us later out of context.

    For instance…

    http://blog.nj.com/njv_kelly_heyboer/2009/11/will_the_internet_let_us_forge.html

    It’s odd. I’m a major early adopter in almost every area of life, but when it comes to outing myself on the Internet I’ve always hung back way past the curve. (That’s changing fast though now. :) )

    All that aside, this post was quite a welcome wake-up call. The point I liked most was the “get out of your head” idea.

    One of the most satisfying and rewarding activities for me is teaching others and I note every time that when I’m caught up in my own story about what is OK and not OK to say online, etc., I completely sabotage my ability to make a contribution and connect with others. In turn I miss out on the incredible learning opportunity that meeting like and unlike minds affords. Wow, what a bummer that is! (Obviously privacy is always an issue and I feel the same as you and others about family and the obvious lines we must draw.)

    Er sumthin’ like that… ;) And yes, I dare you to look at my about page now… ;)

    Looking forward to your next post! :)

  98. Wow, just what the doctor ordered! Excellent points, Chris and a post I particularly appreciated, as you might imagine. ;)

    Like you, I got started online back in the days of BBSes when using pseudonyms really WAS the way you did things. You used a handle or nick and that was that. And the cooler your handle, the better. I always wanted to be a Sysop, but never quite made it…

    And also, like you, I happen to be a solid INFP, but I’m energized by teaching. Sometimes I test as an ENFJ or ENFP so who knows.

    For me the issue has always been about privacy and safety. (Well OK, it’s also about the me-looking-dumb-factor.) :)

    But truly, we’ve never had an internet in the history of the human race and so it’s still sorting itself out in terms of far-reaching effects and ways it’s changing our world culture.

    Admittedly I worry about the permanent nature of everything that’s posted. I know it’s just pure hubris to think that anyone would even care that I said something stupid, but that doesn’t stop my Ego from flailing away at me just before I hit the send/post button. :)

    That indelible and public nature of the ’Net is still a bit of a weird thing for me to deal with, strangely enough. I think about it a lot in terms of democracy and our freedoms. And even the small factor of allowing ourselves our human foibles such that they’re not held against us later out of context.

    For instance…

    http://blog.nj.com/njv_kelly_heyboer/2009/11/will_the_internet_let_us_forge.html

    It’s odd. I’m a major early adopter in almost every area of life, but when it comes to outing myself on the Internet I’ve always hung back way past the curve. (That’s changing fast though now. :) )

    All that aside, this post was quite a welcome wake-up call. The point I liked most was the “get out of your head” idea.

    One of the most satisfying and rewarding activities for me is teaching others and I note every time that when I’m caught up in my own story about what is OK and not OK to say online, etc., I completely sabotage my ability to make a contribution and connect with others. In turn I miss out on the incredible learning opportunity that meeting like and unlike minds affords. Wow, what a bummer that is! (Obviously privacy is always an issue and I feel the same as you and others about family and the obvious lines we must draw.)

    Er sumthin’ like that… ;) And yes, I dare you to look at my about page now… ;)

    Looking forward to your next post! :)

  99. Thank you for your posting!

    I’m a new blogger, really, really new (I just begging this January). I never read any blogs before, but I felt the need to read about them once I began bloging. As you pointed out in this post, I felt I wasn’t good enough… It’s not a very good feeling.
    I just began, because I wanted to share with the world my New Year’s Resolution as a way to keep a promise with myself. I figured I could keep blogging to talk about my progress, but I freaked out and haven’t written since.

  100. Thank you for your posting!

    I’m a new blogger, really, really new (I just begging this January). I never read any blogs before, but I felt the need to read about them once I began bloging. As you pointed out in this post, I felt I wasn’t good enough… It’s not a very good feeling.
    I just began, because I wanted to share with the world my New Year’s Resolution as a way to keep a promise with myself. I figured I could keep blogging to talk about my progress, but I freaked out and haven’t written since.

  101. hey ! you have such strange ideas about being an introvert!!! its like encouraging different people , i like it :)

  102. hey ! you have such strange ideas about being an introvert!!! its like encouraging different people , i like it :)

  103. Chris,

    I interview bloggers almost daily for BlogcastFM.com and the idea of authenticity is one that I come across almost every single time. When I spoke with Jonathan Mead yesterday he told me the point at which he hit his hockey stick was when he started to write from his own unique voice.

    I think another problem we’ve run into as bloggers is this “too much information/oversharing mentality”, yet sometimes it’s those posts that you think you shouldn’t publish that set you apart. A few months back I wrote a post called “why I quit my job in two weeks.” The CEO of the company I currently work at read that post and actually brought it up during my interview with him. In the moment I was about to tell myself “oh shi@#” he actually told me that it was one of the reason he brought me in for an interview. I think this topic could be a blogging course in an of itself because it’s one of those things that takes time to develop. Thanks for getting this out there. I think many people can really benefit from it.

  104. Chris,

    I interview bloggers almost daily for BlogcastFM.com and the idea of authenticity is one that I come across almost every single time. When I spoke with Jonathan Mead yesterday he told me the point at which he hit his hockey stick was when he started to write from his own unique voice.

    I think another problem we’ve run into as bloggers is this “too much information/oversharing mentality”, yet sometimes it’s those posts that you think you shouldn’t publish that set you apart. A few months back I wrote a post called “why I quit my job in two weeks.” The CEO of the company I currently work at read that post and actually brought it up during my interview with him. In the moment I was about to tell myself “oh shi@#” he actually told me that it was one of the reason he brought me in for an interview. I think this topic could be a blogging course in an of itself because it’s one of those things that takes time to develop. Thanks for getting this out there. I think many people can really benefit from it.

  105. Interesting post . In the past i don’t dare put my mask it is cause many problem that i did make me feel not good enough in front of the other people. I realize what i did it sucks but at that time i don’t have good reason to try to change it. Many people that i had lie to them until i meet a guy name Satria Nugraha. He change my mind and make me dare not to lie again or i dare put my mask. He help me find the reason that i try to search to became the real of me. the conclusion is without or with the other people help you must dare to put your mask down cause it make your relationship with other people well, but you must know what thing should you share and not, like the post said in its content.

  106. Interesting post . In the past i don’t dare put my mask it is cause many problem that i did make me feel not good enough in front of the other people. I realize what i did it sucks but at that time i don’t have good reason to try to change it. Many people that i had lie to them until i meet a guy name Satria Nugraha. He change my mind and make me dare not to lie again or i dare put my mask. He help me find the reason that i try to search to became the real of me. the conclusion is without or with the other people help you must dare to put your mask down cause it make your relationship with other people well, but you must know what thing should you share and not, like the post said in its content.

  107. @Corrie – Unfortunately people treat politics on the same hair trigger level of reaction as religion. I find it best to avoid the subject (though most of it doesn’t interest me anyway, seeing as what I get sent is mostly about what I should think about USA politics). As soon as some people think you belong in one camp or another (I have zero current political or religious affiliations, but that doesn’t stop people trying to ‘guess’) they stop listening to you. Normally during a week I will be accused of both being an evil capitalist, and simultaniously an evil communist etc etc. I’d rather not add fuel to that particular fire ;) My guess is the need to put people into nice party affiliation boxes rather than look at things on a case by case basis is part of our herding instinct (people like me vs people not like me) :)

    @Amy – I have often said that the internet has a long memory and we should be cautious also of real time updates (esp geo updates). Well, Google Buzz just added a whole new dimension! Apparently they are connecting people automatically, before you even opt-in. Which is making for some, um, interesting connections. Like connecting a lady apparently to her abusive ex-husband …

    @John – It’s funny though how many reality shows are scripted? Derren Brown once had something to say about the staging and editing techniques used but I can’t find it right now. Essentially he said they were all very manipulative to a genius degree.

    @John – Oh yes, tell me about it. People often argue with me about something they hallucinated, that I didn’t say, in a way I never said it. Sometimes I think people play contact form roulette ;)

    @Zack – There is a definite concious line you need to tread. As I say above, you can’t put things back into the private box, so keep things “need to know basis” – most stuff, random strangers do NOT need to know. And even people who you think are friends don’t necessarily need all your information over again via social sites (these sites are notorious for leaking or changing the privacy rules, and never to be MORE private). So divulge only what is safe and necessary, but don’t stop being yourself. There is a difference between dumping data and having a conversation :D Will definitely check out your site :)

    @Gladys – Go back far enough and 8/10 bloggers you like will have had a bumpy start to their blogging, with the same doubts, same worries, and same mistakes. All part of the process :)

    @angelika – How do you mean strange? :)

    @Srinivas – TMI is a real problem, but I think 90% of TMI is caused by people just dumping facts/opinions and not having a point. If I talk about something personal it better have a reason being there, otherwise it is just weighing the conversation down with clutter. On the other hand, an interesting personal anecdote turns the point you want to make into IMAX 3d technicolour with THX cow bell :)

    @Rinaldi – What you share or don’t share often has a lot to do with why you are communicating as much as what I think.

  108. @Corrie – Unfortunately people treat politics on the same hair trigger level of reaction as religion. I find it best to avoid the subject (though most of it doesn’t interest me anyway, seeing as what I get sent is mostly about what I should think about USA politics). As soon as some people think you belong in one camp or another (I have zero current political or religious affiliations, but that doesn’t stop people trying to ‘guess’) they stop listening to you. Normally during a week I will be accused of both being an evil capitalist, and simultaniously an evil communist etc etc. I’d rather not add fuel to that particular fire ;) My guess is the need to put people into nice party affiliation boxes rather than look at things on a case by case basis is part of our herding instinct (people like me vs people not like me) :)

    @Amy – I have often said that the internet has a long memory and we should be cautious also of real time updates (esp geo updates). Well, Google Buzz just added a whole new dimension! Apparently they are connecting people automatically, before you even opt-in. Which is making for some, um, interesting connections. Like connecting a lady apparently to her abusive ex-husband …

    @John – It’s funny though how many reality shows are scripted? Derren Brown once had something to say about the staging and editing techniques used but I can’t find it right now. Essentially he said they were all very manipulative to a genius degree.

    @John – Oh yes, tell me about it. People often argue with me about something they hallucinated, that I didn’t say, in a way I never said it. Sometimes I think people play contact form roulette ;)

    @Zack – There is a definite concious line you need to tread. As I say above, you can’t put things back into the private box, so keep things “need to know basis” – most stuff, random strangers do NOT need to know. And even people who you think are friends don’t necessarily need all your information over again via social sites (these sites are notorious for leaking or changing the privacy rules, and never to be MORE private). So divulge only what is safe and necessary, but don’t stop being yourself. There is a difference between dumping data and having a conversation :D Will definitely check out your site :)

    @Gladys – Go back far enough and 8/10 bloggers you like will have had a bumpy start to their blogging, with the same doubts, same worries, and same mistakes. All part of the process :)

    @angelika – How do you mean strange? :)

    @Srinivas – TMI is a real problem, but I think 90% of TMI is caused by people just dumping facts/opinions and not having a point. If I talk about something personal it better have a reason being there, otherwise it is just weighing the conversation down with clutter. On the other hand, an interesting personal anecdote turns the point you want to make into IMAX 3d technicolour with THX cow bell :)

    @Rinaldi – What you share or don’t share often has a lot to do with why you are communicating as much as what I think.

  109. Chris,

    This just strikes such a chord for me. When I first started out I used to use different personas and although I never claimed to be something I wasn’t it is much easier being yourself. Of course the boundaries are important especially where family are concerned, just because we have chosen to reveal our souls doesn’t mean our family should.

    On the introvert side, it’s something I can say I am not but a real life networking event still gives me the creeps. Stick me on stage or in front of a camera and I’m fine. That said I still find myself struggling online in some circles. But where I never struggle is when I am talking about things I love, that’s right, when being myself.

    Speak soon
    Sean

  110. Chris,

    This just strikes such a chord for me. When I first started out I used to use different personas and although I never claimed to be something I wasn’t it is much easier being yourself. Of course the boundaries are important especially where family are concerned, just because we have chosen to reveal our souls doesn’t mean our family should.

    On the introvert side, it’s something I can say I am not but a real life networking event still gives me the creeps. Stick me on stage or in front of a camera and I’m fine. That said I still find myself struggling online in some circles. But where I never struggle is when I am talking about things I love, that’s right, when being myself.

    Speak soon
    Sean

  111. @Sean – Yup, your family needs to feel safe in what you are sharing, but also not be the cause of shame/embarassment. I was watching a comedian this weekend tell how he used to do a certain act about his divorce, without realising how awkward it was for his eldest son who had to put up with the playground gossip his “innocent jokes” had caused. He was basically giving his sons bullies ammunition without realising it.

  112. @Sean – Yup, your family needs to feel safe in what you are sharing, but also not be the cause of shame/embarassment. I was watching a comedian this weekend tell how he used to do a certain act about his divorce, without realising how awkward it was for his eldest son who had to put up with the playground gossip his “innocent jokes” had caused. He was basically giving his sons bullies ammunition without realising it.

  113. I used to use my real name when I would post work or comments online until my wife told me that she felt uncomfortable. I’m indifferent when it comes to using my real name or a pseudonym, and I don’t want to cause any unnecessary worry, so I started using several pseudonyms when working online. Obviously, with a name like George185, I’m not trying to look cool.

  114. I used to use my real name when I would post work or comments online until my wife told me that she felt uncomfortable. I’m indifferent when it comes to using my real name or a pseudonym, and I don’t want to cause any unnecessary worry, so I started using several pseudonyms when working online. Obviously, with a name like George185, I’m not trying to look cool.

  115. Chris you’re right on point. Our staff is a strange blend of geeks with a smattering of the creative artsy types that seem to keep us on an even keel. We release both relative, related and our relatives content while retaining modesty where applicable.
    Cheers and keep writing!

  116. Chris you’re right on point. Our staff is a strange blend of geeks with a smattering of the creative artsy types that seem to keep us on an even keel. We release both relative, related and our relatives content while retaining modesty where applicable.
    Cheers and keep writing!

  117. Late to the party, but never coming emptyhanded.

    This is a good post, Chris, and you raise some important points. But I do want to say something because it seems the post implies that a pseudonym is a mask.

    In many cases, a pseudonym is quite the opposite. You can be exactly who you want to be – and people see you exactly as you want to be seen.

    After I revealed my gender, I had many, many people saying, “Wow, this must be a huge relief for you!!”

    *blink blink* No? Why on earth would you think that? Now, instead of talking to me about business, people talk to me about kids and housecleaning. Now, instead of being able to virtually swagger, people expect me to be demure and soft. Now, instead of being called dude and buddy, I’m being called lady and mademoiselle.

    In hindsight, my pseudonym was not a mask. It was the authentic me. (And I’m rather glad I kept it!)

  118. Late to the party, but never coming emptyhanded.

    This is a good post, Chris, and you raise some important points. But I do want to say something because it seems the post implies that a pseudonym is a mask.

    In many cases, a pseudonym is quite the opposite. You can be exactly who you want to be – and people see you exactly as you want to be seen.

    After I revealed my gender, I had many, many people saying, “Wow, this must be a huge relief for you!!”

    *blink blink* No? Why on earth would you think that? Now, instead of talking to me about business, people talk to me about kids and housecleaning. Now, instead of being able to virtually swagger, people expect me to be demure and soft. Now, instead of being called dude and buddy, I’m being called lady and mademoiselle.

    In hindsight, my pseudonym was not a mask. It was the authentic me. (And I’m rather glad I kept it!)

  119. I’ve found that being me is key to survival online. I’m not “out” all the way about my name because I write about finances and our finances and we want to keep that private in a limited way. Still, by being honest about things like location, interests, points of view, etc, I’ve made a lot of connections.

    In a few years I think I want to move on to a different approach to blogging/twitter/etc and think I’ll probably use my first name. As another commenter said, for women there’s a little more of a risk. Most guys on the web aren’t dangerous but dangerous guys do know how to use the computer too.

  120. I’ve found that being me is key to survival online. I’m not “out” all the way about my name because I write about finances and our finances and we want to keep that private in a limited way. Still, by being honest about things like location, interests, points of view, etc, I’ve made a lot of connections.

    In a few years I think I want to move on to a different approach to blogging/twitter/etc and think I’ll probably use my first name. As another commenter said, for women there’s a little more of a risk. Most guys on the web aren’t dangerous but dangerous guys do know how to use the computer too.

  121. Chris this is what I love about you from the very first time we chatted on twitter to our interview to NOW, you are straight forward with GRACE. You humble demeanor is refreshing and we always know where you are coming from-no surprises with you.

    Thanks for giving the world a view of how “what we share” does not have to be “secrets”. I have enough healing to do on my own with all the things we inherit from our families which I gladly accept as part of my journey here on planet earth. My point being everyone has their own “stuff” we do not have to dump each other’s “stuff” on each other or out there for it to be validated.

    I much rather validate the light in each other and grow that for the world.

    p.s. what about that silly game we all played I forget the name where we hit a ball from one side of the screen to the other, giggle-now look at games whew.

  122. Chris this is what I love about you from the very first time we chatted on twitter to our interview to NOW, you are straight forward with GRACE. You humble demeanor is refreshing and we always know where you are coming from-no surprises with you.

    Thanks for giving the world a view of how “what we share” does not have to be “secrets”. I have enough healing to do on my own with all the things we inherit from our families which I gladly accept as part of my journey here on planet earth. My point being everyone has their own “stuff” we do not have to dump each other’s “stuff” on each other or out there for it to be validated.

    I much rather validate the light in each other and grow that for the world.

    p.s. what about that silly game we all played I forget the name where we hit a ball from one side of the screen to the other, giggle-now look at games whew.

  123. Was just discussing this a bit in a blog post I just put up today, but you go much more in-depth into the whole topic. Great post Chris, thanks so much for sharing.

    I completely agree that authenticity is important in everything you do, whether daily living, business related, or within social media. What’s the point of being YOU if you’re not well… being YOU? None in my book, and it’s a sad state of affairs when you dislike yourself so much you feel you have to hide who you really are. Thanks again for the post. :)

    Warm regards,
    C

  124. Was just discussing this a bit in a blog post I just put up today, but you go much more in-depth into the whole topic. Great post Chris, thanks so much for sharing.

    I completely agree that authenticity is important in everything you do, whether daily living, business related, or within social media. What’s the point of being YOU if you’re not well… being YOU? None in my book, and it’s a sad state of affairs when you dislike yourself so much you feel you have to hide who you really are. Thanks again for the post. :)

    Warm regards,
    C

  125. Very interesting topic. I’ve always been surprised at how cavalier younger generations are about their personal information online. And in the business world, it’s hard to strike the perfect balance between staying private, yet promoting your business or employer with conviction. I think some apprehension comes from fear of the unknown… each piece of data you put online can be aggregated to form a profile of you, your family and your life. It’s a fine line I still don’t have an answer to.

  126. Very interesting topic. I’ve always been surprised at how cavalier younger generations are about their personal information online. And in the business world, it’s hard to strike the perfect balance between staying private, yet promoting your business or employer with conviction. I think some apprehension comes from fear of the unknown… each piece of data you put online can be aggregated to form a profile of you, your family and your life. It’s a fine line I still don’t have an answer to.

  127. Great article Chris,

    I just found your blog from a list of top 50 blogs to watch and it was right. My morning has been spent reading your blogs and the quality post from your audience.

    Regarding Do You Dare put Down the Mask, I couldn’t agree more. Nobody is perfect so why try to create a perfect online image. As the most important lessons in life are learned from mistakes, why not share those with others? In doing, hopefully we pass on a bit of knowledge and with it, a bit of our real self.

  128. Great article Chris,

    I just found your blog from a list of top 50 blogs to watch and it was right. My morning has been spent reading your blogs and the quality post from your audience.

    Regarding Do You Dare put Down the Mask, I couldn’t agree more. Nobody is perfect so why try to create a perfect online image. As the most important lessons in life are learned from mistakes, why not share those with others? In doing, hopefully we pass on a bit of knowledge and with it, a bit of our real self.