I was listening to a discussion today about people’s online identity. Years ago it was taboo, and even considered unsafe to have your own name in forums and chat rooms–the precursors of today’s social media. And a lot of people still create user names that allow them to be anonymous. I’m looking at my Twitter feed right now and see names such as “Shoemoney” and “Angelcollector.” Creating pseudonyms online is web 1.o thinking.
Intuitively I have always used my first and often last name in chat rooms, forums, and now Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and whatever comes next. The main reason I use my real name online is because, for me, the web is not a place where I go to hide, but I place where I go to connect, share my voice, and engage clients and potential clients. It’s a place where what I do and who I am intersect in new and exciting ways. My holistic online existence allows me to write about my 10-year old son’s lack of “confidence” in his toilet after an unfortunate overflow incident, share pictures of great food I experience all over the globe, as well as write about the new technology my company developed for TWR.org…a ministry that reaches into 169 countries in 202 different languages.
My online identity is the closest to the sum total of who I am. I share thoughts, pictures, and video as an ever-growing collage of, well, myself. My online friends–people I’ve only met through my online persona, often say to me “I feel like I really know you.” And, if they follow me on Twitter or Facebook, they probably do. Some might feel I share too much personal information, while others appreciate my transparency. However, my personal brand continues to grow and get exposure to people all over the globe. I could have been “Brazilio” or “LatinMan” if I were using the web for nefarious reasons.
Tom Peters was right: individuals are the brands of the future and not corporations. It would be interesting to find out what happens to Apple now that Steve is gone.
How intentional are you about your online identity? How transparent are you with your posts?