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What's in a Name?

As a mythologist exploring Social Media, persona-packaging  fascinates me. I love delving deeply into the way we present ourselves online. Each decision, from our choice of email address, website design and domain name,  profile image, to our user name, promotes or reveals an aspect of ourselves that we wish to highlight.

How we create, package, and market ourselves reveals the parts of our story that we are most proud of, and with which we are most comfortable. We project out into the cyberverse our best photos, our favorite Halloween costumes, and our coolest hobbies. We often choose to show the parts of ourselves that we think will gain the most approval from others. Some of us tone down our extremes in the hopes of attaining a  more generic appeal, while others highlight uniqueness to gain cache and identification within a niche audience.

The details of our lives that we conceal also have a story to tell. I like to think of these parts of ourselves as the offline/shadow persona, or the not-quite-ready-for-online-persona. The unmentioned details of our lives are the parts that we deem boring, uncool, perhaps even unattractive. If we step back and observe what drives & motivates our decisions to reveal, conceal, mask, disguise, or package ourselves in different ways, we may notice glimpses of our inner psychological forces battling for supremacy. 

My profile image reveals my conflicted impulses to conceal and to reveal. I took a photo of  myself, colored the background magenta and made the image so bright that it really stands out. My profile image is me, but stylized into an almost iconographic image. In real life (IRL) I’m less blonde than I appear in my profile; I’m a media analyst and scholar. I try to add a bit of wit and humor for tastier reading.

My offline-or shadow persona-is my real life. I don’t blog many details about my family. I’m married to a technology lawyer who, for personal and professional reasons, wishes to remain a private citizen. Early on I also made a conscious decision not to be a Mommy blogger, or more specifically, not to blog about the topic of motherhood. Ironically, since the birth of my daughter, most of my time has been spent as stay-at-home mom. My initial first few thousand tweets avoided almost all mention of my personal life and loved ones. My profile mentions it from time to time, as I try to decide whether I am a professional tweeter or a person who tweets.  I do fear losing all privacy, but the more I tweet and appear online, the more artificial the line between the public and private becomes for me. 

There are some readers who may be turned-off by the time gaps in my resume, but I no longer feel the need to hide my time spent in the Mother-Hood. Some of my initial success on Twitter may have come from the perception that I was some sort of expert:I put out quality content that was judged on its own merits. Being unknown permitted readers to project their own impressions into the voids in my profile, and let my words and opinions bypass  their prejudices. 

 After attending two Twitter conferences (Gnomedex and 140conf LA -the State of NOW) I can no longer say that I tweet  purely for the  intellectual exercise. Having met many of the individuals with whom I trade comments on Twitter, I cannot deny that my tweets have taken on a very social and collegial aspect. I’m no longer a lone  individual throwing tweets out to the random masses. I identify and communicate with an online community-one that listens (or reads), cares, responds, and retweets.

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8 Responses to What's in a Name?
  1. Ohdoctah
    November 1, 2009 | 7:44 pm

    I’m the same online as I am offline. It’s easier for me that way. Everyone needs to find out whats best for them! hugz nice read.

  2. Kirsten Mitchell
    November 1, 2009 | 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I am coming to terms with the loss of privacy, and finding ways to let the facts of my real life enter into and inform my online posts and tweets without “outing” my family. Self-acceptance is the necessary precursor for authentic engagement, in any arena. I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the chance to meet authenitc people like you IRL.

  3. Madison
    January 1, 2010 | 5:59 am

    “I’m no longer a lone individual throwing tweets out to the random masses.”

    You mean, there was once a time when you felt this way? Loved your blog, love the deep mythology. I still feel like a lone tweeter, lol. I tweet, but no one responds half the time. But I just logged onto Twitter not long ago, so I’ll give it some time and hope I adjust.

  4. Betty C.
    January 25, 2010 | 12:00 pm

    This is an excellent and intriguing post. Too bad you’re not keeping up the blog…

  5. yogi
    March 9, 2010 | 6:46 am

    I have recently joined twitter , this is a great Blog of yours, I am just delighted we’re connected through the Leadership Development community…lots to learn & share!

  6. yogi
    March 9, 2010 | 6:47 am

    I just came across this Great blog of yours, Just delighted we’re connected through the Leadership Development community…lots to learn & share!

  7. Kirsten,

    Very glad you are coming to the Writer’s Group on Tuesday the 1st of June and was wondering if I might have the honor of reprinting this article as a guest post on my blog and adding my “nickel” as the prologue.

    A nice post indeed, and you raise many good points that I agree with and my personal philosophy about using Social Media Channels: Facebook, Biznik, LinkedIn, Twitter and the myriad of other online tribes/communities one can find (if they look) is that ideally we are being positive, in contribution, at the very least neutral, and cultivating a congruency between whom people read, whom people talk to and whom people may even meet face to face.

    After all the years of writing and speaking and being me, I believe that whom you experience is pretty consistent at the Core. And the Core is the Key in a brand be it a corporate or personal brand or persona.

    Persona being in Latin “a mask” and that being said what if choose transparency. Not transparency about everything, but being known for being fundamentally my core values. I ask my clients, and those who are part of the Writer’s Support Group I began for Me, MySelf and Others the following question: What do want to be remembered for? What qualities?

    I let the answer to that question drive every comment, addition of a post or piece I write that is not fictional. Works for me!

    May I “reprint” you please at my blog?

    Thank you for this post! Thought Provoking Indeed

  8. Kirsten Mitchell
    May 29, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    I am happy to share my Persona piece on your site as a guest blog post. Your comments have elucidated and updated my original piece, written October 2009.

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