So here it is Friday, lunchtimeish, and as usual I’m burning up massive amounts of time scouring through my accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Verla Kay’s blueboards, etc, and I got to thinking about this idea of establishing an online presence that we aspiring kidlit authors get so much advice about. I think it was Michael Stearns who tweeted during #kidlitchat or #yalitchat or one or the other of those Twitter #litchat things about understanding that an online persona is just that – a persona. As in, a character, a perceived image, a public personality.
Whaddayasay, minions, do I, your humble bloggy wogger, have a persona as far as you can tell? That is to say, a public personality that is separate or different from my private personality? The evidence seems to say YES, if I’m reading it correctly. Right, of course – those of you who haven’t met me in person haven’t had the opportunity to develop an opinion about this. Those of you who have rubbed elbows with me in the analog world may have noticed, however.
I have a friend who I knew before ever getting mixed up in this social media stuff, and she later became a Facebook friend as well. More than once she’s said something to the effect of “In person you’re so reserved, but on your Facebook page you’re so funny! It’s very interesting, Mike.” Then there’s the other friend who I got to know online first and later met in person, and he made a similar comment about my laconic, Eastwoodesque, mysterious-stranger vibe in person.
In a related but somewhat different vein, I once tweeted about being a big fan of Shrinking Violet Promotions, and another of them online buddies said “Mike Jung, introvert? WHOA,” and likened my Twitter presence to that of a Tasmanian devil (which I take as a very high compliment, just FYI). Then there’s this blog, of course, where I’ve only really posted contests and reviews before, but will no doubt blather on and on about all kinds of random stuff in the future.
Now I can’t speak for anyone else who may possess this kind of dichotomy with their “real” and “virtual” selves, although I am sometimes curious to know what goes on in people’s minds with regard to intent, strategy, etc. Speaking for myself, however, I don’t think there’s any kind of artifice or deliberation at play. Of course there’s always the possibility that things are happening down in the deep, dark, reptilian crevices of my brain cavity without my conscious knowledge, despite my constant attempts to live a lifestyle that’s self-examined to a nearly psychotic degree. But if you put a gun to my head and demanded an honest answer, I’d have to say that I’m not so much trying to project an image, you know? An image that’s different from who I truly am, that is.
I am a writer, after all, which means I’m sometimes a little…strange. Rich internal life, high level of introspection, propensity to examine things from every conceivable angle, yeah, I’ve got all that stuff. So perhaps the way this so-called online persona thing works (for me, anyway), is that it’s not a way to project a deliberately constructed external persona. Instead, maybe it’s a way to project the internal persona that’s been there all along.