Recently someone in my life asked me a few questions that got me thinking. My friend asked me if I take into consideration how people may view me online. He told me that he saw two different Steve Bremners: the one he knows personally, and this other ‘persona’ I put forward online and in social situations.
Whether or not I behave or present myself online differently than who I really am is something those who know me personally can attest to or not, but for now it was still a very good and provocative question.
It got me thinking because I don’t consciously behave differently or try to portray myself a certain way or make any effort to make people think I’m something I’m not.
Until a few months ago, I shared different things on
my Google+ account (RIP Google+) with certain people. I have a circle for Christian friends I know personally, a circle for people I’m following but don’t know, a circle for Canadians, one for Americans, one for Spanish speakers, and so forth. Until about a month ago, I was sharing 80% of my stuff with the Christian circle, and the rest publicly.
However, I started to realize that a lot of people were circling me, and since I don’t automatically follow everybody back, I went for the plunge and just decided to share almost everything publicly, ensuring that those who may be following me for my more Christian posts will be able to see those things without being placed in a circle on my end.
The whole process and concept of sharing certain things with specific circles enlightened me to the idea that depending on the connection I have with someone, they will see only certain posts, resulting in the possibility of their perception of me being fashioned to have a certain view of me, however correct or incorrect.
In simple human communication, we always interpret information shared with us through a certain set of filters and communicate with a specific set of parameters with which we hope to convey our thoughts.
In other words, we can say or post something with a certain intention of how we think or expect it to be received, all the while we read and interpret those same messages and posts from others a certain way, as well.
Clear communication is impossible through the internet and email, therefore our online persona in social networking websites will be inadequate in communicating who we really are.
So, the question my friend asked me about how I present myself online, and how others perceive me is a valid one. I may present myself a certain way, but that might not be how people perceive me.
A couple of years ago someone once wrote me through a private message on Facebook that they were shocked to see I goof around all the time and I’m “always” posting funny stuff. I had gotten talking with this person on chat one time, and she basically said that, because I was a missionary, she had a certain perception of what that meant I’d behave like and how I composed myself online. All the humorous updates and posts were basically not what she expected. Judging from further conversation with her, I gather it was also not necessarily something she welcomed of me.
Questions To Ponder
How are you presenting yourself online?
Are you responsible for people having a misinformed perception of what you are really like or what you really do?
Are you as cool in real life as you are on your social media profiles?
Would Jesus be glorified by what you share, say, and do online?