Present Yourself Authentically Online

I guess this week’s accidental theme is being authentic. On Monday, I was thinking about leading authentically. Today, I’m thinking about blogging authentically.

Living online, I think it’s easy to forget that this kind of communication carries a certain skepticism from the readership. Who is this person really? Do they really live what they say? Are they honestly trying to reach me, or are they focused on reaching the search engines?

The internet has such a bad reputation brought about by those who use it as a stage, a place to test out new personalities, to test out ways to gain what they want through not entirely kosher ways that it places a great burden on those of us who do exist on the internet the exact same way we exist in real life to have to fight to prove our own authenticity.

What’s even more fun is that a number of teenagers, that group of people trying to find themselves, to figure out who they are going to be through the early stages of adulthood, are online showing off that growth. They’re being normal kids- posting emotional rants, attacking each other for being different, sharing pictures they find silly, but we would find stupid (Sometimes, I really wish my students wouldn’t feel compared to share these pictures with me.)- but they’re also trying to share their journey. They’re trying to share their writings, their art, their personal expressions as they navigate the same troubled teen years we all had to pull ourself through.

For us, our teenage growth isn’t on display for the world to see. We are sharing our adult lives. For these kids, those teenage experiences that they share with the world through the internet will be available to haunt them until someone finally figures out how to clear all ghosts from the internet.

What this means, and the linked post on blogging authentically is just the tip of the iceberg, is that it’s okay to share your life, to share your struggles. Someone may benefit from seeing how you handled a challenging period of your life, and it may in turn help them through their own struggles. But it’s best to be discreet in sharing your life, and to be yourself even online. You never know who’s looking, and you never know when you’re going to run into your online persona in your offline life.

When you live in harmony, these two personas not conflicting, it makes your life simpler, and people actually appreciate your honesty.

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