Michelle asks: What Kind of Online Superhero Are You?
The easiest way to think of this is through superheroes, of course. In many comics such as Superman, Spiderman, and Batman, the protagonist has double life. The characters seem to cherish both roles-the closeness of relationships with others in the standard life and the power and responsibility of the superhero life. In other comics such as X Men, the hero and the person are the same. Wolverine, although sometimes escaping into solitude as Logan, is always a Mutant. Jean Grey is always Jean Grey and Storm is always Storm. There is no separation of character and alter ego here.
Do you use the internet world to escape or improve your current life? Do you have a deadbeat job and use it as an outlet for your talent? Or do you use it to show what you do on a day to day basis, with no need to escape your current situation? Which superhero are you when you are online?
I was told that Coturnix is just like real me in real life. I am online everywhere under my own name AND my handle. But then, my job is to be online 24/7 and promote myself in order to be able to promote the brand.
Others have very different personalities online and offline. They surprise you when you finally meet them in person. They even nurture that well-known difference, e.g., PZ Myers who is fiery online and very quiet and shy in person.
Then, some have two personalities even online. Perhaps they write under their own names on a personal blog where they post the pictures of kids so grandma can see them, and at the same time blogging pseudonymously on a political blog. And trying really hard to make sure nobody connects the dots.
But really, why shouldn’t passionate online advocates also be gentle family people and parents? Humans are not so one-dimensional.
A lot of nervousness about pseudonymity comes from the clash of cultures (“generations” in terms of worldview and technical modernity, not age) – how will one’s online presence affect one’s personal or professional life?
But in a couple of decades, this clash of cultures will be gone. The people hiring will be of the Facebook generation themselves. Seeing drunken party pictures on Facebook profiles of potential employees will be perfectly OK as that is what everyone has. No big deal. Actually, people who have no drunken party pictures online will be suspect – what are they hiding; why are they hyper-managing their online presence so much? That would be a red flag!
If you are not online, you do not exist. But if you are online, you have to manage your online persona. Don’t let others do it for you, because that may hurt you. Do what you need to do to make sure that the drunken party pictures are there, but only in the second 100 hits on Google, not right at the top. Make sure that what Google brings about you first is your best stuff and your best face. But don’t worry about the mere and inevitable presence of bad stuff (e.g., someone smearing you in a blog post) – it will be OK in the near future.
So, are you Superman or Wolverine?