There are times in my day when I’m not thinking about anything specific. When I’m just floating from thought to thought, letting ideas flow and settle.
Today was one of those days.
And a thought that occurred to me had to do with persona, particularly in relation to social media.
There’s a whole blogosphere out there. There’s Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. And a billion others. On all of these, you put up a profile. You share pictures, you update people what you’re doing at various moments throughout the day. You tag friends and specify locations.
Bottledworder, one of my favorite bloggers, has a good take on it here. I particularly love the idea of airbrushing.
Because, really, who are we on these sites? What face are you presenting to the world? Several years ago I taught a course in women’s studies. I asked the girls what they thought they were saying about themselves on their social networking pages when they posted pictures of themselves in bra and knickers or just a great cleavage shot. I asked if they balanced that out with some really smart blog about something they were passionate about.
None of them did. They wanted to be thought of as sexy, not smart.
When I post pics on FB, ninety percent of the time you’ll see what I see: landscapes, signs, family. You won’t see much of me. And when I blog here, I tell you my thoughts, I discuss writing, I talk about issues that occur to me. I discuss plans and options and opportunities.
The last thing I want you, dear reader, to think about when you’re reading me is what color my bra is or whether or not I have cellulite under my tramp stamp tat. Now, perhaps that’s because I don’t have a smokin’ hot body, and posting pics of my half naked body would more than likely make you cover your computer screen in sick. But really, it’s also probably because that’s not what I’m interested in on other people’s sites either. And it’s not my focus in my daily life.
Because that’s not my persona. The face I present to the world, the one I want people to appreciate, is one of intelligence and subtle humor. Am I actually intelligent? Can I actually teach writing? Do I have a sense of humor in real life? Do I actually like to travel, or do I just write about it? How much of the real me do you see beneath the words?
The truth is, you only know as much as the persona presents to you. And I often wonder what people actually perceive me to be, versus what I perceive me to be projecting.
What is your persona? What face do you present to the world? Is it airbrushed? Do you tweak it to make it fit the persona instead of allowing whatever it is to stand on its own?
Book: Ransom by David Malouf
Song: It’s Getting Better All The Time by Brooks and Dunn