Who Are You Online?

Who are you when you’re online? Are you yourself, or are you someone else?

I had a conversation with my colleague Kerri Birtch last night about how we behave online in relation to how we behave in real life. We agreed that we both do our best to be the same “person” in online forums as we are when we’re offline.

On reflection, though, do we really act like this?

Of course, there are the obvious differences like people who have a ghost blogger. I’m talking about more subtle differences, though.

  • Are you more aggressive online?
  • Do you tell more jokes online?
  • Are you more outgoing online?
  • Do you swear more, or less, than you do online?
  • Do you talk about your personal life online?

It’s easy to say that, yes, you do all of the things online that you do offline at home.

Here’s something else to ponder: away from the computer, do you act the same with clients as you do at home? 

I know I don’t. I’m more polite; I tell less jokes. I have a pretty cutting sense of humour, which I keep under control around clients.

What about you? Do you behave the same with clients as you do outside work? I expect not, but you tell me.

Now, put the two of these questions together. Do you act online as though your clients are watching what you post?

Enough of my clients are on Twitter that, alongside my client searches, I have a group set up for all of my clients on the service. Post scroll through that column fairly rapidly. I bear that in mind when I’m twittering, especially during office hours (although sometimes I slip up). I try to remember that existing and potential clients may see what I post, and try to behave accordingly.

There’s a line to tread here, and it’s tough. I want to be myself online, but I know that I occasionally need to self-censor.

Do you?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.