Friday, May 1, 2009

How are you perceived? Interpreting Social Media

With the vast number of social networks at our disposal these days Facebook, Blogging, Twitter and so many others how do we really get to know someone?  Sure we can read their blog and get a sense of whether they are funny or angry or boring but does it tell the real picture of who a person is?

Personally I Blog and Facebook.  I blog almost everyday. It is as an outlet for things that are on my mind or to express and voice my opinions.  I log onto Facebook maybe once a week.  It’s a medium that I really just don’t get the advantages of using.  Sure it can connect me with the past (sort of like Shelle’s Facebook and the Past post) but it isn’t something I really do much with.

If by reading the messages a person leaves in whatever social medium they choose are we getting an accurate picture of who they are?

Maybe and maybe not. I certainly hope I leave an accurate representation of who I am when I blog and what I am ‘about’.  The problem is that written words often come across far different when spoken.  When we speak we have the ability to use the inflection of our voices and the cadence and rhythms to get our points across.  So much gets 'lost in translation' that’s why it’s such a well-known phrase. It’s tricky to determine if what someone writes and the way we read it in our own minds is what the writer intended.

Likewise the image we project online does not always portray who we are in real life.  I've had my own experience with this in thinking a person is one way and finding out that the image they created was false. We tend to think of relationships, at least here on Venus vs Mars in terms of Women vs Men. We write about issues in relation our spouses or significant others.  But I think taking a look at our blog or social media relationships bear weight here too.  After all aren't we all reading these posts and forming some sort of relationship with each other even if it is virtual?

How do you think people view you? Would you say it’s accurate? Have you met someone online and found them to be far different than you expected?

Blogging Mama Andrea


The Blonde Duck said...

That's a really interesting topic. Some might say we're truly ourselves online, while others may say we simply present a side of ourselves. But if you think about it, we're always showing one part of ourselves. Your work collegues don't see the same side as your husband and your husband doens't see what your girlfriends see and your kids don't see what they see. Very interesting!

K said...

Great topic Andrea! As a stay-at-home mom who moves every 1-2 years (we're a military family), I don't have too many friends that I can invite over for tea and see and touch. Instead I have a cup of tea while I blog and read blogs. I enjoy learning from others on their blogs and as a blogger myself I think the blog shows part of who they are, but only part. For example, I think I may come across as a bit serious, maybe boring, maybe not funny on my blog. For some reason when I sit down to blog, this is how I write. But with my friends and family I am also sarcastic, laugh a lot, and easy-going. So maybe our blogs show 90% of who we are for some people or only 5% of who we are for others.

One medium that allowed me to meet someone online and know them fairly accurately was eHarmony. This is how I met my hubby six years ago when we were both in grad school. Their system works pretty well, and he was who I thought he'd be and more! Unfortunately I've had a couple of friends who did eHarmony and met people who were far different than they expected.

I'd love to meet the bloggers I've met online! So if anyone is in the Alexandria, VA area let me know :)

Susan said...

This is funny, because I think all the time that people probably think I'm an "insane-crazy-doesn't-really-like-her-kids-that-much" kind of person when people read my personal blog.

And I really don't swear as much as I do in my blog. Well, at least not at work. Or in front of my kids. But with my husband and friends, and especially dealing with our ex-spouses?? Yep, I guess I do.

Then, Venus vs Mars requires a more serious side, which has been challenging for me, but only because my writing style is sarcastic, and humor is what's therapeutic to me personally.

Most people wouldn't think I've had (and am going back in 2 weeks to) a very serious work side of me... which I think even more is one of the reasons I like to let my "other" side come out in blogging!

However my husband and friends I think would ultimately say "What you see is what you get."

[Disclaimer: I absolutely adore my kids...]

[...Most of the time]

Cajoh said...

I agree that there are a lot of parts to a person that we never see on line. I strive to be as honest and clear in my writing so that you understand my thoughts and feelings on a given topic. I believe that many people interpret my writing and get a good picture of how I am.

I have written a post called "Why can't my friends be friends with my friends" where I mention to someone that I am the same person no matter who I am with— and they agreed with me. I believe that the same holds true with my virtual acquaintances as well— I am the same person on line as I am in real life.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

How funny... I portray myself as I am... but there is some things that just don't come across written word as they do in life...

Sometimes I read something and get a total different interpretation of it than what was meant.

And my writing is obviously not up to par because people will take something I say sarcastically the wrong way. I'm hardly EVER serious... so neither are my posts... but yet, people will take a sarcastic post seriously and then I'm left to explaining what I meant.


HOwever... I have met a handful of blogger in real life now and I have to say... they have ALL been exactly as I thought they would be!

Missty said...

Oh, great subject! I would hope I am the same everywhere and with anyone I am with.

I have met several "online friends" Like about 20 of them. Most were really how I thought they would be. It really is so fun, to meet a person you have had an online relationship with.

Don't you think if you have chatted or read someones blog over a long time, you do kinda know there personality?

Last summer we had a BBQ at our home for 5 online families here at our home. Very fun! Of course the guys didnt know each other, but they all got along great. It just so happen a couple families were on vacation here in So. Cal, and then a couple others lived within a couple hours from me. Very fun, I would do it again, in a minute.

TisforTonya said...

The ones I've met in real life haven't shocked me - but I know that it IS possible to lie like a rug...

I mean - really, aside from Shelle, are any of you SURE that I'm not some 65 year old man living in his parents' basement?

I tend to write pretty much how I speak - which I think is representative of the "real me" - but I'm not so honest in my facebook status updates that I share whether or not I have gas... I don't think that anybody wants to know THAT much about me.

(disclaimer: I may or may not have a gas problem - I am on a high fiber diet and it may or may not be arguing with my digestive processes - but I will keep that information to myself)

So - the long and the short of it is whether or not the blogger (or twitterer, etc...) is honest in the way they portray themselves ;)

Susan said...

Shelle - that's funny - I've learned that I obviously don't write or portray my sarcasm "clear" enough because people have thought that I seriously poisoned my kids from lawn chemicals just recently!

It was supposed to be a joke, but now I've probably got child protective services following me.

wendy said...

I agree sometimes posting things or emailing people is NOT always an accurate way of getting the TONE across. One time at work I had to repspond to a work related email, I did --it was precise and basically just answered the question and THEN THIS PERSON WHO KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT ME AND HAS NEVER MET ME --emailed me back and said I lacked "social skills" WTF
I was mad, then I just laughed. I guess I should have added BFF and LOL and whatever else, but I just answered the question. I showed my Judge and he laughed too ---but see, that person had no idea what the TONE was
alot can be misinterpreted in "writing"
Hope you all don't misinterpret this (tee,hee)

K said...

Susan, I love your blog for its witty sarcastic humor. Your way of writing and the subject (your children) shows the depth of how much you love your children, and I think it's a good reminder for us parents to see humor in our day-to-day lives. Andrea's topic on this blog today makes us realize that some people interpret writing in many ways, and eventhough some may have interpreted yours incorrectly or too seriously, I'm grateful for the way you blog because it's one of my favorite blogs to visit every day, especially when I need to lighten up! So thanks Susan and Andrea!!

vailian said...

We all have different "voices" depending on the situation and on the medium. Blogging and emailing won't change human nature! I (apparently) have a different personality depending on which of my working languages I am speaking (English, French and German)... During the time I was working in France I was surrounded by clever but slightly glib people and that colored my French personality, working in Germany surrounded by serious characters is probably reflected in my persona here.
Needless to say, my English is therefore severely muddled.

DGB said...

Interesting topic. I think that everyone has a slightly different online persona based on the fact that you are in more control online. There's a "delete" button. Thoughts can be edited.

I've been told that I'm funny, but only by those who know me on line. My IRL friends all constantly groan at my terrible jokes.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

That's funny DGB... people are always groaning at MY terrible jokes... in person AND online though!