View Full Version : Self- vs. public image

05-04-2008, 03:15 PM
I love it when a person appears to be genuine -- they are whoever they say they are. But let's face it, most people put up a public image or decorum, either online or in real life, either out of necessity or personal preference. For example, the public Robin Williams is very different than the private one. It's not to say he's not a genuinely good person, but there's a strong difference. And that's not reserved for celebrities only.

I was working on a song which talked about building up walls in our lives. I certainly have my own walls, my own defense system. I'm pretty much the same guy you see on here, but in meatspace I'm a little more quiet, more shy, and less argumentative.

As writers, we also seem to have to project a certain outward image as well. I have to constantly remind myself that I have to appear professional, well-spoken, and try not to be too outrageous even in Office Party, for example. When I was a mod, I was even more cautious. It is, after all, a public forum. Others can click on my sig and profile to find out who I am. People may have read my work. Agents and publishers may be visiting these sites. And I sometimes wonder if I've revealed too much about myself. I remember when I first approached my now-publisher, she said: "So, you're the infamous maestrowork on AbsoluteWrite." I was mortified (don't worry, everything turned out fine).

There are times, though, when I'm really tired of being on guard, or trying to project a certain image, at least professionally. I know it's necessary, but then again, why can't we let our hair down more often? It's not to say we all pretend to be someone we're not, but still, we can't put up a guard and then complain, "No one understands me." It's indeed a contradiction.

What do you think? Do you put up a different public image than your private one? What are you feelings about that? Do you think it's necessary since we have to socialize with others and a civilized society requires judgment and decorums? Or do you think people should be true to themselves at all times?

JJ Cooper
05-04-2008, 03:54 PM
I think online or our writing in general gives us the freedom to be something that we may not be able to pull off in face to face situations.

When I was interrogating, I had to be someone else. Step into a different role. It was always an intellectual battle with someone in a harsh, face to face environment. Winning was everything; and so was abiding by the rules. Yet, I always had this feeling that when I was doing those sessions It was the real me. And that life was the act.

Society dictates rules and norms. When we come online we can be someone else. Granted, you stay at one site long enough you better have a good cover story that will hold up.

I don't think it is necessary to be true to yourself at all times. We all have to meet the in-laws sometime. You need to make judgements dependant upon the siuation.


kct webber
05-04-2008, 04:27 PM
I can honestly say that I'm pretty much the same person here as I am in meatspace. I gave up trying so hard to put on a mask for every situation a long time ago. Having said that, however, I think that it's impossible to kick off your shoes and put your feet up in every situation. Our culture--probably no culture--allows that. In large part, our culture makes us who we are, so it could be argued that our "professional" self is not another self. It's just a part of the same entity. People are not simple organizms. We are complicated, psychologically and socialogically, and we live in complicated social and cultural structures. Sometimes our situations dictate how we act, but that's just a product of a given culture. It's not a fake 'you'. It's just a different facet of you.

There is such a thing as taking it to an extreme, though. As long as people aren't taking it such an extreme that they are "acting" however, I think it's just the normal societal/cultural necessity. I'd be willing to bet that even the cave men acted slightly different around their mothers than they did when they were with the hunting party.

05-04-2008, 04:48 PM
I know what you mean, Ray. I try to separate the meatspace me from the online me by never using my real name online, but even using "Maryn" I hesitate to say what's on my mind all the time, because it can come back to bite you on the ass too easily when and if an agent or publisher happens to recognize the name.

At a chat site I used to moderate, I had a situation much like yours, where as a moderator I felt even more compelled to behave in a certain way. With the owner's okay, I created a second account where I could let my hair down a bit.

It makes me wonder if I should have compartmentalized my online personae even further, so no online name connects to my pseudonym or to my real name. Too late for that, though.

Maryn, a model of deportment

05-04-2008, 07:13 PM
I've been thinking about this lately. My online persona, at least here, is much more gregarious and outgoing than I am in meatspace.

Here, I really DO let my hair down, so to speak. I have a whole other life in meatspace. In that life, I'm like the uberadult. I've got a husband and four kids, all of them with some sort of special need. I spend a lot of time researching, talking on the phone with teachers and doctors, etc. I am very very stressed out a lot of the time.

Here, I like to kick back and have fun and goof off. I like to talk about the one thing that in IRL nobody else is interested in -my writing. Hanging out here is my "me-time" that keeps my head on straight. I can blow off steam, etc.

With that said, there are still things I hesitate on all the time. I try to mind my temper, same as in meatspace, because it can get away from me easily. I try not to get into arguments (though as Ray can attest, I still lock horns with people on the topics I care very much about) and try to be respectful in my opinions. It's still a bit lopsided, however, as I'm mostly a goof here. I like it that way. :) But only a handful of people even know my real first name, let alone my last!

I wonder sometimes how I would handle it if I am ever lucky enough to get published. My goofy persona here is far, far far! from being professional. At the same time, I owe AW and all the people here a big debt of gratitude for helping me to develop as a writer, and I would love to be able to share my excitement over such a development with everyone. I suppose I could, but I'd definitely have to not name my agent or the book.

William Haskins
05-04-2008, 08:32 PM
i'm the nicest guy in the world in real life.

same as here.

05-04-2008, 08:46 PM
I come here to vent sometimes. Like the biz w/ my job: at work, I have to pretend like this doesn't bother me, like they picked the best candidate and my time will come. Here, I can cry and whine and say what I feel inside. I listen to Queen's "The Show Must Go On" every night before I walk into my workplace, plaster on that fake smile and pretend everything's okay. You guys don't see me cry, but I think you can feel my pain. I don't have to pretend here, like I do in meatspace.

05-04-2008, 09:05 PM
Here, I really DO let my hair down, so to speak.

Here, I like to kick back and have fun and goof off.

I'm mostly a goof here.

My goofy persona here



*gets a drink of water*

*chokes some more*

*zips lip and sneaks away before getting smacked*

05-04-2008, 09:09 PM
I have always tried to be as true to my real self here as I am IRL, but I know there are a lot of things I say here that I would not say to someone face-to-face. Like Cranky said, this is a place where I let my hair down. I'm somewhat of a goofball IRL, but not like here. God knows, not like here!!

05-04-2008, 09:29 PM


*gets a drink of water*

*chokes some more*

*zips lip and sneaks away before getting smacked*

Yeah. I might've gone a tad overboard there! :D

05-04-2008, 10:05 PM
LOL, nono, I didn't mean that you said it too much, I was just poking fun at some of the antics we get up to. I mean, come on, where else would I ever offer to anoint myself with scented unguents for another woman? Certainly not IRL!!

05-04-2008, 10:06 PM
Not even on April Fool's Day? :D

05-04-2008, 10:13 PM
I'm pretty much the same IRL as I am here. Obviously, there are situations that require me to be a bit more serious...like funerals. Other than those, what you see is what you get. :)

05-04-2008, 10:26 PM
Not even on April Fool's Day? :D

What are you doing next year, baby?