February 22, 2010

Faces, facets, and fanpages

I was just talking to someone who blogs about markets, under a pen name, and how his article got linked to by a big name writer in that area. But since he writes under a pseudonym, will anyone ever really attribute that article to him? How do we prove we are our pen name? Do we need to? What's the benefit and drawback to being anonymous online?

I was trying to find an article about this very topic on Penelope Trunk's blog (I'm still looking and that's a post for later--WAIT, here it is) but came across this blog post of hers about social media identity instead:

Because mashing our social media together for the purpose of marketing one feed to another dilutes the value of social media. If you express yourself in the same way on a blog and on Twitter, then you don't need both.

Each of us is multi-faceted. With a selection of media to choose from, we can express different parts of ourselves in different ways.
(Emphasis mine). I cannot agree with this point more. I used to always complain with my friends would write a LJ entry and then post the exact same thing on their MySpace. They'd get mad and say they could do what they want, but they were missing the point. Why would you just repost the exact same thing, when you have 2 audiences with the potential to write twice as much? I'm just going to stop reading one site or the other if you post the exact same stuff. This is why I will not follow any Twitterers that simply post links to a blog, or add a company on Facebook that just says the same stuff I can find on their homepage.

Penelope continues:
Mashing all social media together to create one image of ourselves doesn't make sense because we are all already accustomed to showing certain parts of ourselves only in certain parts of our lives.

Also, people who want to meet you in one format, won't necessarily want to meet you in another, and that's fine. Jason Warner, at Google, for example, explained that he doesn't want to check out your MySpace photos before he hires you because it's not the part of you he's expecting to show up at work
I totally agree with Jason's point, though think that the conventional wisdom is the opposite--employers, associates, friends, whoever, will look at all parts of your online life when trying to put together an initial impression. I think this is why I tend to want to be anonymous when talking about non-work, non-professional things online. Sometimes I want to be outrageous, controversial, silly, sexy, whatever, but not have it be tied to my professional self. My personal life is different from my professional life. But then it becomes hard to have ANY identity, when you chop your life up into parts. You forget who you told what name to, have to decide why you share what parts with, and the result is all very confusing.

This also brings me to "fan pages." Sociologically, FB is a goldmine of interaction, case studies, and I told you so's. With a slew of companies adding fan pages, it makes me wonder what makes us decide to publicly declare our love for a company. Surely most of the time, we are not so rabid a fan that we must declare our love for Chipotle, naps, or our local media person. It's all just a show--a way to prove to others what we have. Our likes and dislikes make us who we are--our groupie love is how we connect to others. You like the same things as me, even things as mundane as high heels or Swiss cheese, so you must be like me. I understand you. What does being a fan really mean? And what does it mean when we must profess it so publicly?

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