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Blogging: Online presence and authenticity

The way bloggers communicate and present themselves and their opinions online is important, but even more important than online presence is “to thine own self be true”. Authenticity is the character trait of being genuine, honest with oneself as well as others.  It’s more than that too. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite the demands of society or one’s conditioning.

the real you

the real you

Your online reputation
The reality is that much of the web is designed, not so much to share information, as to sell it. It’s also a reality bloggers today, more than ever before, have many demands on their time and social media networking to create an authentic online presence can be a time drain.  Also, as blogging becomes more and more a means of making an income, all bloggers are under increasing pressure  to create a  “nice” online presence and reputation.

You don’t have to meet the demands and expectations of others if they are unreasonable, unrealistic or unfair. The trouble with being too nice all the time is that you can’t be yourself at any time. When you can’t be yourself, at least, for majority of the time, the psychological and physical tension can wear you out. Provided we are courteous observers of netiquette then who we are online ought to be the same “who” we are offline.

The golden rule your parents and your kindergarten teacher taught you was pretty simple: Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you. Imagine how you’d feel if you were in the other person’s shoes. Stand up for yourself, but try not to hurt people’s feelings. — The Core Rules of Netiquette

See also:  10 Rules That Govern Groups

Social networking

On one hand,  increased communication on the internet is beneficial is that it allows people like me, who are less personable and outgoing, to feel less inhibited to communicate.  On the other, the  disadvantage of an internet based society is the ability to fantasize and create enemies and conflict where none ought to exist.

Online what we see is a computer screen. There are no visual clues — no body language, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to  transmit meaning. In cyber relationships, we have only words. In the absence of sensory input online we can believe we know someone well when we really don’t actually know them at all. How this happens is easily explained; we tend to create the missing data with our imagination.  We can easily make huge mistakes because it’s  easy to forget that the others we communicate with are feelings like our own.

Online friendships can be very real and very valuable, and when compared to face -to-face friendships they have different strong and weak points. While blogging is built on relationships, and while good manners (netiquette) always ought to prevail, I think we all need to recognize that not everyone will like us or what we have to say, and some will even read emotions and motives into what we say that don’t exist at our end.

People pleasing pressure

Blogging is competitive and as blogging becomes more and more a means of making an income online for a growing number of people, all bloggers are under increasing pressure to  create a charismatic online presence. If we lose our sense of balance,  and cross the “to thine own self be true” line online,  in order to secure friends, readers and/or customers by projecting a phony “nice” personality we will sacrifice authenticity. Consequently, for bloggers it’s equally important that we manage our online presence in a manner that’s respectful of others, while still remaining true to ourselves.

Managing your online presence

The advent of Web 2.0 and activities like blogging and social networking have completely changed the way people communicate and interact. Social media are online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics:

  • Participation
  • Openness
  • Conversation
  • Community
  • Connectedness

Online reputation resources and tools

One of the most powerful (and easiest) methods to begin to control your reputation in the search engine result pages (SERPs) is to create social profiles on major social media websites.

For managing your  online reputation, consider checking out these 6 tools:

48 thoughts on “Blogging: Online presence and authenticity

  1. Very good points…I try to give my readers the experience of actually having me as a friend, but this is great for people still trying to find a “voice” or balance their actual opinions against what’s palatable to the average reader. This is definitely info more e-soapbox people should have, good post!

  2. Pingback: Being Authentic Online and in Your Business | The Work at Home Woman

  3. Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  4. Very well said, TimeTheif.

    I am concerned by authenticity because one might ask himself/herself why we blog in the first place? Is it because to ‘kill the time’ or ‘to share something with people’? It’s important to know why you are blogging. On the other hand, it’s also very important to be yourself; you are doing this because you are so, not placing a mask to hide behind.

    • @Hicham
      I also think it’s important to isolate why one is blogging and what the purpose for their blog is even before they begin one. However, that’s not the usual course of events. We seem to dive into the deep end and do a lot of splashing before we begin to look for swimming instructors. Hopefully I made that clear in my post: Creating a new blog

  5. I found this article very informative as well as inspiring, since i started blogging last month only and i was able to understand that authenticity matters the most.
    For me blogging is about a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

  6. Lots of good points here. I’ve found that the lack of tone of voice/body language information can really be misleading at times. Humor, for example, can easily be misread.

    • @Paul Maurice Martin
      Yes, I agree that humor can be easily misread or even completely missed. I have a very dry sense of humor and I have noticed that some people don’t “get it”.

  7. You pose an excellent question about authenticity. I have been thinking about this topic over the last week because I read a great blog entry by a female pilot. Her blog is anonymous, but discusses important issues of sexism in the workplace and what it is like to be female within a male-dominated profession. I could think of many other similar “minority” or “insider” situations where the message is important to convey, but discretion is what allows us to continue to survive as a participant in that world (admittedly it isn’t perfect yet). I realize some might think it isn’t worth participating if you can’t be complete all the time. However, I also believe that change can emerge from positive influence from the inside. Authors who have published under a pen name have made important contributions to social change. I express a lot of public opinion and critique, but some of my private world remains inner. I suppose sharing some of the inner world would be interesting to others but has to be done in a “safe” context…probably anonymous. I know that personal fulfillment is harder to achieve when you can’t be completely “you” in every situation. But managing face to face social interaction or public speaking is also very much a negotiation between the private and the public. It’s not just a desire to please others, but also a desire to be able “to continue to participate” in selected contexts. I was very struck by some quick reading I was doing about facebook when I came across an idea that “it is important for companies to be able to research what others think of you moreso than what you present about yourself.” It gives me pause to consider the possible ramifications of that idea.

    • @Ms wabbit
      I posted this same topic to the Blog Catalog forum and was surprised when I received a couple of comments to the effect of thank but no thank to the tools, I’ll manage my reputation myself.

      You hit the nail on the head when you said:
      “it is important for companies to be able to research what others think of you moreso than what you present about yourself.” … It gives me pause to consider the possible ramifications of that idea.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  8. The bloggers with the strongest online presence appear to be those who are just being themselves; which is great because that’s the easiest thing to do. :)

    • @DeadRooster
      You’re right. That is an excellent quote that I know I will use one day with proper attribution to you, of course. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Wow very well said TT. I have just started my blog last week and it is my very first blog. You know what? I hate writings. That’s true but it change when I tried joining social networking and blogging. I am trying to love writings now and I can already see the difference and improvements on my writings, it isn’t too bad now. I am a less outgoing type of person too. I preferred to stay at home than going anywhere else. I am glad that I found you in BlogCatalog community or else I don’t know where to get such inspirational articles. I’ll try to do all your inspirational advices. Thank you for this very informative article.

  10. Hola TT

    As always a very informative piece. It does seem easy to slip into this unauthentic “blogging personality” in order to garner readership and acceptance among fellow bloggers. While I would like to think everyone likes me for the wonderific person I am but that isn’t the case in real life so why would it be true in the blogging world.

    It’s my opinion that I should stay true to the material I write about and the person that I am. While I don’t blog for money and it’s nice to have people make comments you should never lose your integrity as a person to conform to what you think others want. At the same time you shouldn’t be a jacka$$ just for the sake of being one because the internet allows a certain level of anonymity. The should be a fine balance.

    Not only that with the internet touching just about everyone, you have the ability to link up with like minded folks. Basically stay true to yourself, find your niche topic and people who are looking for that will find you .

    • @Faith
      … with the internet touching just about everyone, you have the ability to link up with like minded folks. Basically stay true to yourself, find your niche topic and people who are looking for that will find you .

      Getting to know you has been a pleasure and what you say is true, provided you follow the rest of the advice in my blog and make sure your content is optimized. (I just couldn’t resist sandwiching that in. ;)

  11. I’ve already blabbed in your discussion, but here I go again. This is a very interesting topic.

    In my office today, two employees went at it by email. They sit approximately 20 feet away from each other, but they chose to flame back and forth. So why am I telling you this and what has it got to do with online presence and netiquette?

    First of all, like it or not, we are evolving into a digital society. (I say evolving because we are far from there yet. We have much to learn.) The fact that two women who have known each other for over five years would not get up from their desks and speak to each other directly over an issue of dispute seems incredible. But is it? For introverts, or those who have never been comfortable with conflict, the written word creates a shield to stand behind when sticking up for oneself. The internet provides the immediacy. Without email, I am certain both of these women would have remained silent and hurt.

    Our culture is changing and as Marshall McLuhan wrote, “the medium is the message”. What we are doing here is less about the content and more about the means in which we communicate. While we may find the navigation of this medium a challenge, one thing is certain: social networking is changing the world. This medium is allowing the individual, the silent, the overlooked, the disenfranchised to have an equal voice. But the internet is also indifferent. It gives equal empowerment to predators, loudmouths, lunatics and the antisocial. And before we think it holds the promise of being the great equalizer, let’s not forget that we still have a huge digital divide. Currently, knowledge of the digital world is power. There are many people in this world who have neither access nor knowledge of this medium. What will become of them?

    But back to this most excellent post and discussion. We are renegotiating the rules of communication in a relatively new medium. Leading by example is the responsibility of those who break new ground. So, in my view, we need to direct our energy into being present and authentic, constructive and helpful. We’ve got everything from soup to nuts in this medium. Over time, it will sort itself out, but every single person who takes positive steps to connect with others globally, while respecting personal and unique individual boundaries contributes to the greater good.

    You sure know how to get people talking, tt. You are doing exactly what I described in that last paragraph. Your thoughtful work is greatly appreciated by this blogger.

    • @Cindy
      We are renegotiating the rules of communication in a relatively new medium. Leading by example is the responsibility of those who break new ground. So, in my view, we need to direct our energy into being present and authentic, constructive and helpful.

      I couldn’t agree more. And I truly don’t what to say in response to your sage comment that could stand on its own. I simply nodded my head in agreement as I read it. Thank you so much for your contribution to my post.

  12. Like you and Shirley (my name is also Shirley) my writing reflects my offline demeanor. I’ve learned a lot about netiquette from working in a corporate world for years — Lotus mail was a staple for internal communication and project management. You learn how text is not the same as a face-to-face meetings and can often be misinterpreted. And that a message gives a first impression. Always a good idea to re-read your post or social networking message. Again as another introvert who can be very humorous with friends, I find it helps to write things down.

    Sometimes I may be ‘too honest’ in a ‘helpful’ way on social networks or blog comments by suggesting things for other people that are off-topic — so I have to watch that. I am a ‘nice person’ by nature but I can also be a ‘hulk’ if pushed (case in point, confronted a Twitter user who kept sending the same post in different tiny urls! — but it was done in a netiquette way. LOL)

    As always your posts are full of references and personal examples to make us feel we’ve learned something or been given a chance to reflect on a worthwhile point. Thumbs up!

    • @SBA
      I am blunt and plain spoken by nature and I find that online I experience cultural differences that I don’t experience where I live, as well as, expectations that one will be “nice”. Where I live that word has a negative connotation that equals being “phony”.

      I am a paralegal, who is keenly aware of what constitutes grounds for successful law suits against those who think they can get away with harassment, defamation and character assassination. Sadly, I have witnessed these despicable behaviors online.

      I am blogger who does follow netiquette in my blogs and throughout social networks. I also attempt to be a personable as an introspective person can be without compromising my authenticity. And I’m a writer, who chooses her words carefully so when I am misunderstood I do clarify.

      In the past when I experienced totally off-base personal attacks on a forum, they proved to be the product of those who think they are capable of mind reading and who attributed emotions and motives to me that were not mine. I attempted to clarify where I was actually coming from and in most cases this worked well. In the isolated cases where it didn’t work I evoked my bottom line and walked away.

      IMHO there’s far more to be gained and nothing to be lost when one chooses to fail to engage, and simply focuses on their blogging, and everyday life, rather than becoming involved in silly spats on social forums with people who have serious personality disorders. In other words I have
      No Tolerance for Trolls

      It’s always good to hear from you. Thanks for your contribution and happy blogging.

  13. I enjoyed the post and as usual with your posts, there is so much good information and advice contained within the article. Your writing is concise and I find the message presented is always valuable to me as a blogger.

    • @recyclecindy
      Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate the fact that you are finding enough value in my posts to be a faithful reader. If you have a particular topic in mind that you want to have me blog on , please feel free to ask me.

  14. Loved the post TT. I can always enjoy reading your posts and thoughts, because just like you posted in here, they are you. I don’t get any sense of monotony that some people end up with when talking about things, or the robot factor and “Must. Be. Professional.” act. Your posts are incredibly helpful and interesting reads, but they still have a nice human touch from you which I love.

    But it’s true about trying to find that line between being yourself, and risking offending or putting off others. But in this day and age, while it’s good to try and find a comfortable level of “netiquette” , I wouldn’t stress over it too much cause you’ll be left with nothing that’s apart of you, because just about everyone is liable to be offended by anything you say.

    That’s why I like what I write about though. While a person could disagree with my opinion on a game or console, overall I can be as brutally honest as I want about it (while making sure not to push through the Libel zone). I guess it’s easier with mine because I’m not reviewing a person or my opinions on a people, culture, or section of society, but just a product. But on another note, I see a lot of people who hide what they really think and try to cater to everyone because the fear of video game enthusiasts among their peers is to be made out as a “fanboy” of that particular console brand (PS3, Xbox, Wii), in the end being disregarded as a reliable source of information.

    But to wrap all this up before I start rivaling your post in word count on a comment (lol) you have to be yourself in my opinion. Especially if you’re writing about a specific subject, because if you can’t be yourself, how can you consider yourself a reliable source of information if there is no “you” truth behind it?

    • @Dustin
      I believe your wrap-up says it all. I’m also appreciative of the compliments you paid me. It’s good to receive feedback from my readers, and it’s great when the feedback is positive, because it assures me that I’m covering what my readers want to know. Thanks so much for the comment.

  15. I don’t blog for money. I admit to doing different things to try and bring money in but I don’t truly work on it. It’s not very meaningful to me and I think that shows in my writing.

    The things that are meaningful to me I work hard on promoting.

    I can’t be something I’m not. My personality reflects in the way I write. I am the same person online as I am offline. I think I am more me when I write than when I am in person. I am more the person I want to be.

    Introversion gets in the way way too often in my real life. When I want to tell my husband something and I want to get it all out I find myself writing letters to him.

    • @Shirley
      I can’t be something I’m not. My personality reflects in the way I write. I am the same person online as I am offline. I think I am more me when I write than when I am in person. I am more the person I want to be.

      Wow do I ever agree with what you said. I’m the same. I’m also an introvert and have been interested to note how many of us there are online. I believe that the technology has created a means for us to be in contact that otherwise would not exist. I also find that I can organize my thoughts better when I type them out so I understand what you mean about writing your husband letters, although I haven’t done that. Thanks so much for commenting and best wishes for happy blogging. :)

  16. Wow this is so true. There are times when we get carried away that we sometimes forget to ‘behave’ ourselves. It drives home the phrase ‘I told you so”. Thanks for remind us to think before typing away because when words are sent out, they could not be taken back. And when feelings are hurt then the potential for friendship is futile.

    • @celticmusicfan
      I haven’t had many online altercations when it comes to my blogs. I have however been misunderstood in online forums. I’ve found that if I’m typing and feeling angry because someone has misunderstood me the best thing to do is to save what I’m typing as a draft. Then I go for a walk or do other things offline. Choosing to make a delayed response helps bot myself and the other party to chill out and reconsider our positions. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Hi TT =)
    You already know how much I respect your advice and admire your commitment to helping bloggers. You anticipate and blog always a step ahead to our needs. I learn a lot from you to not only improve my blogging but I also get tips from you as far as promoting my blog is concerned. As someone who tries to always stay true to herself, I appreciate this post very much!

    • @lolita
      Thanks so much for your praise. I really appreciate it and the feedback you give me on my posts. I’m also happy to hear you found value in this post.
      Cheers :)

  18. This post really made me think about “online presence” and even more so being true to self. Each time I read one of your posts I learn more, which helps since I am still pretty new at blogging. You also help to open up my thought processes and allow reflection on the actual blogging experience as well. Thank you, always for the wonderful information and help that you give.

    • @Quiet Waters Rise
      I’m happy to hear you find value in my blog posts. Thanks so much to taking the time to share your feedback with me. I appreciate it.

  19. I do not know how to add a tag to a photo but I saw that google can find them just writing a pertinent file name. Anyway photos are crucial. A post without them seems to me sad.

    I will try to read (study) better your post that, like always, seems to be really clear and useful (with the inevitable numbered lists).

    • I appreciate for response to my Blog Catalog broadcast. That’s why I have re-posted your comment here to the applicable post.
      Happy blogging! tt

  20. I’m new to blogging and I really need to know the basics. Thanks for this very useful resource. Keep posting because I’ve learned something from your posts.

    • Thank you for responding to my Blog Catalog broadcast. I appreciated it and that’s why I have re-posted your comment here to the applicable post.
      Happy blogging! tt

  21. timethief, Your blog posts on OneCoolSite.Com have always been very informative. Thanks for sharing this latest post for it tells a lot about using images with blog post.

    Dear TT that’s why I respect you very much. For you’ve been very co-operative, particularly with new bloggers. Wish you all the best.
    Keep up the wonderful job !

    • Thanks so much for responding to my Blog Catalog broadcast. I have re-posted your comment here to the applicable post.
      Happy blogging! tt

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