The Grand Illusion of online… Who are We?

12 Jun

Humanity has always struggled with the question:  Who am I and where do I fit in the world?

100 years ago, this was easily answered – identity was based on social status (rich or poor), infamy (Bonnie-and-Clyde), profession (you’re the town doctor/undertaker/barman), or  relationship (you’re so-and-so’s mother/father/sister/wife/brother/husband/friend/lover, etc.)

Today, with the “Grand illusion of online connectivity,”

it’s so much harder to figure out what the world thinks of us.  You might say, who cares?, but no one, outside of hermits living in complete isolation in the woods, can truly say that outside opinions don’t affect their well-being.

In our online, connected social/not-so-social, 24 x 7 world, we are infinitely judged by everyone for anything we post/blog/utter/comment online.  I say “infinitely” because once words are pressed into digital media (texts, posts, blogs, comments, emails, etc.) there is a permanent, accessible record.

And judged we are – 24 x 7 – no matter if we recant, remove, erase the words, our persona online becomes what others perceive us to be.  We are judged by people we may never meet, by people in other countries, by people who gain a snippet of our life as we allow them to see online, and our image of ourselves can be forever altered.

I’ve thought about this… Facebook reaches over a billion members worldwide.  People of every facet of global society are on Facebook and pass judgment based on the two-dimensional words, photos, friend lists, and associations we make (our likes, dislikes, comments, etc.):

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Online affects kids AND adults…

Who we are and how others view us is critical to both kids (who are finding their way in the world based on social media, YouTube videos, online comments, etc.) AND adults.  I see this as a looming crisis as we, the civilized 1st world, pretend doesn’t matter.  We comfort ourselves by saying that our kids are connected and safe and loved when we give technology gifts instead of spending our time and energy connecting with them one-on-one.

Our news media is filled with reports of cyber-bullying and intimidation with sometimes dire results (depression and even death, sadly.)  Yet, others profess that online friendships have rescued their lives (the infirm and home bound.)  Ultimately, time will tell what a generation of children raised mostly online will give us.  (Hopefully they will be able to talk and connect to each other as human beings!)

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I’m connected almost 24 x 7, but who am I?

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend  most of my waking hours “online.”  By that, I mean, essentially tethered by an electronic umbilical cord to my smart phone, my laptop (now), or my tablet and am constantly accessible to the world through Facebook, e-mail, text messaging, Facebook messaging, or Skype.

My professional work is home-based and on-the-road based (I teach project management and speak at conferences worldwide) – and when I work from home, I have the luxury (and the bane) of not ever having to step outside my front door, yet I find that my true identity is when I go out and interact face-to-face with other people.

I am confident and secure with who I am, yet I hear of other adults (and youngsters) who struggle to find their place in the outside world – mostly based on their online interactions. One poll stated that over 2/3 of Facebook users BLATANTLY LIE with their  posts – yet the posts are legal and have the power to be used for/against people in court!  (It goes against who I am to lie online… just saying.)

On behalf of friends (and myself), I’ve agreed to conduct a short experiment (that I’ll publish the results of) to gauge if who you think I am matches in any way who I truly am… will you take part (please?)

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Who do YOU think I am (an online experiment…)

Here’s the challenge:  give me a three word description (no profanity please!) based on what you’ve read on this blog or on my other blogs or on Facebook that you think best describes me (I know I’m opening myself up by leaving it free format here.)

To make it easy, here’s a template:

 

Regardless of the Grand Illusion – Go Offline to really connect and stay true

I created a National Offline Day (it’s a Facebook event) as a global way to for people to reconnect with real people in your real life.

Won’t you join in?

I’m committed to reconnecting with the people in my life and my neighborhood for 12 hours – for the sake of my real-life sanity.  Let’s get back to who we really know we are… for real and in-person without the grand illusion of online personas.  🙂

Have a great week!

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