We like to think of the online experience as being an extension of our real life. We are who we are and while the elements that make up who we are might be expressed differently in the digital world, it’s not a drastically different person than who we really are. It’s variations and shades of our traits that make up a slightly different version of ourselves.
Well, I like the online version of myself a LOT more than the other dude.
First, this isn’t a plea for validation or a fishing expedition for compliments and encouragement. It’s just an observation and one I hope to learn from. I did have an interaction some time ago where my Johari Window was smashed to bits as my perception of myself was challenged by the unveiling of another’s perception of me—someone who I considered a close friend but who has long considered me a complete asshole (actual quote). That forced me to reconsider a few things.
Offline me is pretty funny.
Online me is too, but tone and expression can sometimes be misconstrued and since most social media interactions are text-based, I tend to over-index on providing context in my comments. Does that mean I need to preface everything I say in real life with some sort of social disclaimer? How boring. But it does mean I try to be more aware of someone else’s perception of the conversation and how they might read meaning into what I say.
Offline me is sarcastic.
Online me tends to avoid sarcasm and cynicism since the web is already overblown with snark. I pick and choose my snipes carefully and usually with the idea of deflating a troll or heated debate. That may be a shade of an offline behavior as I have long been the diplomat among my more salty friends, but my online persona specifically avoids adding heat to the fire where my offline self has sometimes fueled it.
Offline me plays it pretty close to the chest—I am a bit emotionally stunted.
Online me is much more apt to share things, regardless of emotional weight. That means I have a lot more online relationships than I do offline: I have more friends, so to speak.
Offline me is sometimes cocky, or at least perceived to be arrogant and dismissive.
Online is more confident than cocky and because verifiable proof is just a click away, less prone to easily undermined statements of “fact.” I have always been an arguer (to my parents’ chagrin) but online me seems to have a more balanced and nuanced approach. He’s more thoughtful.
Offline me is relatively insular and occasionally socially awkward.
Online me is quick to comment or otherwise acknowledge people. This is likely due to the much lower bar for entry (click LIKE when a friend posts baby pictures) and a much lower commitment level to conversation. I don’t need to feign looking for the bathroom to walk away from a thread going nowhere.
There are lots and lots of other examples of my own personality differences manifest in online and offline ways. But if I can recognize the positive attributes of one, can’t I then at least start to adopt them into my real life?