Recently I had the opportunity to meet a number of people I’ve only met and worked with online.  It was interesting.  If we think of people having different facets, on-line shows perhaps only 50 % of a person’s personality, like photographs it’s one sided. And so, when we meet in person, the conversation can be stilted, as we strive to be that same person that showed up on our social media account!  There are so many more facets of us, than the person on the screen.

When we meet to chat on-line, we often only show a partial part of ourselves, so I ask myself what are on-line friendship all about?  

We’re all busy making connections, 750 connections on one social media site, 500 on another. How can we actually relate to each of those individuals, and connect in a meaningful way?  Some people connect to sell, immediately you allow them into your life, they want to ‘help’ you.  Others are looking to collect names for their list – show how ‘important’ they are?  We’re all caught up in it!

Who do you allow into your life?

I’ve decided to be more particular in who I allow in my life – I want to know who people are and why they want to connect with me.  I was told that for one social media site, I should have 30 contacts for every year of my life.  Yes, I understand for my business it’s important to have a lot of contacts, spread the word about how brilliant I am.  However, it feels a little false, only about 5% of these are people I know, the rest are business acquaintances, colleagues and maybe business prospects.  But if they are are in the same business as I, how many are actual prospects and what am I to them?

Another expert suggests people I should connect with based on whatever algorithm is the flavour of the month.  So, a social media website that is supposed to connect us, really introduces us to strangers and with this silent, continuous pressure we succumb, we add people we don’t know, have never met and invite them into our lives. And so how much do we give away of ourselves, our lives to people we have never met?  And what do they do with the information we so freely give away?

Previously:

For many years I only invited and accepted invitations from people I knew, and had met in person.  Then I started my business and realized I had to get out there more if I wanted my business to be a success – I needed to meet more people and allow them to get to know me, and how I am in the world.  So, I opened up my social media accounts: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc…  posted these blogs, talked of subjects I’m comfortable with – showed more of me – the real me, as many facets as possible and as much as I felt comfortable with.  What I’ve realized however, is that not everyone does.  We’ve seen the carefully curated stories of others’ lives, so happy, so glamorous, very few show the messy, chaotic reality, the ups and downs of everyday lives, the stories we tell ourselves the vulnerable unhappy, scared individual – what would happen if that showed up – would I be supported or would the trolls come out in droves?

Are you remarks truly you?

I watch remarks and judgements being written and wonder, ‘would they say this if they were face to face to the person they are condemning’?  Would they be so sure of their ‘righteousness’?  I’ve taken a decision not to judge others, even when I disagree, the remarks they post may have been made in anger, or frustration or hate, however I don’t know their full story.  If I was face to face with them, maybe I’d ask, but for now I’ll usually unfriend them.

I believe we must start thinking about who we are, and how we show up on social media, the messy, bright, beautiful humans that we tend to be.  We need to think about what we say, how we say it and the person we are versus the person we portray.   No longer pretending that we have perfect lives, but show the other side of us, even if it isn’t pretty, the side that we would show if we met others in person, what we would reveal, and say.  R. Kay Green in this Huffington Post Blog suggests three factors to consider while social networking.

Who are you?

My persona on social media used to be fairly crafted to what I believed I should be, now it is much more me – no I don’t show all the mess and frustration I feel, however I don’t do that outside social media either.  Today, I’m trying to show as much of the ‘real’ me as possible, how much of you do you show?  What would happen if you showed the messier side of you?  Or the quiet, introvert you really are, rather than the larger than life personality you appear to be?