About seventy-eight times in the past few weeks I’ve seen this tweet or Facebook update that basically boiled down to this thought: “I can’t believe X thought Y about me.” The update is usually made by some woeful person who has just been smacked in the face with how their online persona is perceived by those in their social network.
Now, I realize you are a unique and precious flower who lives a colorful and exciting life. However, if every time your name pops up on Facebook or Twitter you’re complaining about what an insufferable brat your child is and how you need copious amounts of adult beverages to cope, people are going to start hopping to some conclusions about who you are as a person.
Think about it, if all you see from someone is posts about how cranky they are all the time. . . isn’t it logical to assume that they’re just a cranky person?
Same goes for all you gym goers who only tweet about the horrible form/hygiene/appearance of your fellow gym patrons. You do that, it’s safe to assume everyone thinks you’re a mean, judgmental blowhard.
And if all you do is update with inspirational quotes attributed to everyone from Dr. Seuss to Gandhi, we’re all just going to think you’re dumb. Your Hallmark&trade Philosophy is not inspirational and/or intelligent.
Don’t let my snark mask the seriousness of my point. You are what you post, and you need to be cognizant of what you’re putting out there especially if you’re going to be hurt or stunned or angered when someone says, “You’re cranky all the damn time.” Go back and see what they see. Should someone judge based on the littlest bit of yourself you share online? Probably not. Are they going to? Hell yes.
I know of what I speak. Learn from my mistakes.
Back in the early aughts I spent a lot of time writing very many (much to my great embarrassment now) super whiny posts about how lonely I was. Every time I felt the least bit insecure or unsure or lonely, I took to the Internet and poured my wretched heart out onto the keyboard. In my head I balanced this with plenty of posts about my love of Starburst Jellybeans and Dawson’s Creek. But that balance was in my head, and I spent a lot of time being totally outraged when people let me know they thought I was a whiny, lonely, pathetic wimp.
It took me a very long time to make the connection between their perception of who I was and the little bits about myself that I was feeding them. A little bit of self awareness goes a long long way.
So if you don’t want to be thought of as a cranky/drunk/judgmental-asshole, maybe you need to expand what you update about just a little bit. I know a lot of people fall into this trap of posting about one aspect of their lives because they want to tightly control what people see. They’re afraid of saying the wrong thing and having it read by the wrong people. I get that. But if you’re that afraid of the internet seeing who you are, then maybe you shouldn’t be on the Facebook or the twitters.
Let your social networker see what a complicated, deep individual you really are. Or, if you can’t do that, don’t be totally surprised when you get called out for being a jackass.