Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Staying True to Yourself Online

I’ve got it. A two-headed turtle. That’s the image that comes to mind when I think about the divide I
sometimes feel between my offline self and my online persona. Every time I click online I hope to convey an aspect of who I am—to offer a sliver of authentic self. However, I struggle with the whole “be real, but not too real, be vulnerable, but not too vulnerable” advice. I don’t want to walk a fine line when it comes to communicating with my readers or friends online. The last thing I want is to be two-faced. Though, I’ll blatantly confess, more times than not I end up feeling like a two-headed turtle.

Newsflash: A turtle is only supposed to have one head.

I’ve maintained a healthy blog since 2009, joined Facebook not long after, Twitter a few years later, followed by Pinterest. You could say I’ve been making the rounds. This whole concept of keeping my head has gotten more interesting with the recent release of my book. Whenever I begin to feel the unnatural sprouting of a second cranium (or sense I’m straying from being entirely true to myself online) I pull back. I evaluate what’s going on. And I take heed to the following.

Things I tell myself in hopes to restore my head:

Don’t Follow a Set of Rules
There is no set way of how one should act online. I’ve read lists. I’ve laughed at lists. One list said not to thank people for things on Facebook because it would come across as a desperate plea for attention. Yeah, that’s a solution…shirk gratitude. See where that gets you.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
That one review, Facebook like, repin, retweet, etc. isn’t going to be the remedy to all your problems. There will still be problems tomorrow or the next day. Banking on someone to come through in a specific way is unhealthy. It places far too much control in another’s hands.

Take Social Media Breaks
A week. A month. However long, hiatuses are fantastic for restoration, refocusing, and a refined vision.

Recognize the Comparison Trap
This is that big fat net that dangles over every social media site. Numbers. Visits. Attention. Blah, blah, blah. It’ll snap you up faster than the clamped jaw of a snapping turtle. Head one and head two.

Careful Not to Puff Up or Deflate
Your worth can’t be found online or offline for that matter. There’ll be times you’ll be tempted to think you are a big shot. Don’t. There’ll be times you’ll be tempted to go eat fried worms. Hey, try it if you want, but I’m advising against it.

Don’t Ruin Face Time
Years from now, research will reveal the unsettling influence of HBS (head bent) syndrome (and yes, I just made that up). Checking texts. Tweeting at dinner. Align yourself with Jim Elliot’s advice, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

Gauge Your Moods
Kids on your case all day? Husband calls says he’s going to be hours late and he forgot to pick up toilet paper and milk? Running on two hours of sleep? Steer clear of professing anything drastic online. Send an encouraging email or call a friend instead. Just like the No Texting signs along New York highways, tell yourself, “It can wait.”

Use Discernment
As with all things, there’s a time and place. Live and learn.
This idea of online self versus in person self fascinates me. I intend to keep reading about it and paying attention to who consistently communicates authentically online.

What say you on the topic of online authenticity?

*More tips for keeping your head listed here


  1. All great points, Wendy! Mood-gauging is a biggie! If I'm in a cranky mood or something sets me off, the last thing I do is go on facebook!

    1. Yeah, Facebook can be a dangerous place when I'm feeling grumpy or extra vulnerable. Same with lots of those other sites. ;-)

  2. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! You are good at breaking the issues down into simple and clear parts. Also, you have the best sense of humor!

    1. Aw, Meg, what cool things to read! Thank you! I like to break it on down. (Oh yes, yes I did.)

  3. Thse are some of the best guidelines I have read.

  4. Wow, thanks! I just know they've worked for me & I like to share stuff like that.

  5. Great guidelines! I try to just stay positive and professional online... if that makes me a little more guarded and a little less "me" online then so be it - but I think it's better to be cautious b/c it's easy for people to misread things online and it's also easy for what we say to get passed around all over... :( Although I love the convenience of the online world it has a huge set of problems that go with that, unfortunately.

    1. Yes, we had a scary neighbor situation that made me become more cautious. It opened my eyes to some things. It is a blessing and a curse--this era of connectivity.

  6. Good thoughts. I have to remember that my blog is connected to my Facebook page. I can't lose my cool and rant on my blog because my pastor is one of my Facebook friends. (really, he is.)


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