“The thing I love about social networks is I can be anyone I choose to be!”

This statement is the basis for a lot of conversations for me lately.  There seems to be two schools of thought around this in the conversations that I’m having.

1) Mistrust

There are a lot of creepers out there and social media allows them to hide their creepiness.  How could I possibly trust and get to know someone purely in an online forum? There are too many unknowns and it is too easy to hide behind an avatar.

2) Something to hide behind

So you’re telling me that I can be whoever I want to online? Awesome! I’m going to be super perky and positive all the time…always smiling and greeting everyone in sight! Nobody has to know that I’ve never seen the glass half full and that really I don’t enjoy people.

Both of these things have valid points.  Yes, you do have to take precautions when you are dealing with people that you don’t know.  Even when you are getting to know them.  For example, the first time you meet someone from Twitter it’s probably not a bad idea to meet in a public place.

Also, sometimes it’s not bad to hide behind an avatar.  I’m a fairly cheery person in the morning, but to be honest, I’m not cheery every morning.  However if you look at my Twitter account @jasondykyou’ll notice that virtually every morning I’m online and in a positive mood.  There are two reasons for this: 1. I’m typically a cheery person and 2) When I’m not in a cheery mood, thinking these thoughts (or tweeting these tweets) put me in a more cheery mood.  So I’m hiding from time to time.

But here’s the thing.  You can’t be anyone but yourself.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are the only you.  If you are pretending to be someone else, people are going to notice.  I’ve met a few people over the past years and not all of them line up to their online persona, and this completely skews my perception of them now and I lose respect for that.

I find the biggest group of people that are really happy that they can be someone else online are (typically) business people that think they can be nice online but really they are assholes.  Guess what my friends…If you’re an asshole in your day to day life, you’re also an asshole online.  Changing the location of where you are doesn’t change your personality or who you are.

So no matter where you are, whether it’s online or offline, be yourself.  Please.  I’m begging you.

(This was originally posted on Social Medi8r)

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