Do you wear an online mask…?

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I’ve spoken a lot about the challenges with masculine and feminine masks, but there is another type of mask that is also causing us a lot of problems at the moment…and it could be affecting your femininity.

These days we spend a huge amount of time interacting and connecting online.  Globally we spend a collective 35 Billion hours online a month, which equates to nearly 4 million years!  Of this time, 22% of it is spent on Social Media and 19% on emails…so around 41% of our time online is spent involved in some kind of communication.

What is scary is that 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than they do face to face…and I’m sure that the stats for other areas of the world are similar.

In addition, a recent survey showed that these days, many people with a mobile phone prefer texting over a phone call…leading to even more text-based communication.

The challenge with this is that a lot of people wear what I call an “Online mask”.

Masks are there to conceal the identity of the wearer. Wearing any mask involves portraying characteristics that not consistent with who you are on the inside, and hiding an element of the ‘real you’.

When people interact online it is so easy to use the internet as a mask to hide behind.  People say and do things online that they would never dream about doing in the real world, face-to-face.

It’s easier to be bold when you can’t see the immediate reaction from the person you are interacting with.

I’ve personally had a lot of experiences where people I have interacted with online have been very different when I’ve interacted with them offline.

Several years ago I did a stint of online dating, which meant getting to know someone first through a website or email before meeting them face-to-face.  There were so many times that a guy seemed one way online and yet in person was completely different.

There were the usual cases of a man claiming to be 6’2” and in reality showing up as 5”8, or photos that looked like they were taken 10 years ago, but the biggest surprise for me was the amount of drastically changing personalities.  I can’t tell you the amount of times that a guy came across as confident on an email or on a website….but was painfully shy or awkward face to face. Sometimes a guy would appear flirty and forward over text message…but didn’t show up that way when there in person.  One guy who I met in Guilford had seemed very confident over email, but was completely incapable of looking me in the eye over coffee at the local Starbucks!

I know that some people use Social Media to create an ‘online persona’ for their business which is the complete opposite of their offline self as a ‘marketing exercise’.  There are individuals who are privately facing financial ruin…but publicly are declaring themselves a success…or worse claiming to be able to help others to improve their own financial situations.

I’ve built up relationships with people via Facebook where I felt that I’ve got to know the person quite well…and yet when I’ve met the person in real life they’ve been completely different.  I’ve met people at several events over the course of the last year who have completely and totally surprised me by being so different in person to the way that they come across online.

In each of these situations the people in question are wearing an online mask.

These online masks manifest in a number of different ways:

  • Some people say things that are more controversial than they would do in a face-to-face situation.
  • Some people are more extroverted than they would be in real life.
  • Some people are more harsh and brutal with their communication than they would be in person.
  • Some people use the ‘online world’ to play a role that they aspire to be, but aren’t comfortable with when they don’t have the computer to hide behind.
  • Some people deliberately represent themselves in a way that is not consistent with who they are.
  • Some people are more forward or flirtatious.
  • Some people are more honest.
  • Some people are less careful with their words.
  • Some people are less aware of the consequences of what they say and do.

Now, some of these ways seem quite benign.

So what if someone is a little more flirtatious when they’re online or if someone is a little more honest on Facebook?

Well, it might not seem like a big deal, but in reality it can make all the difference in the world.

You see, if you represent yourself one way at one time and in another way at another you don’t come across as authentic. If people aren’t sure that they know you…they won’t be sure that they can trust you.  If they aren’t sure that they can trust you…they won’t be interested in building a relationship with you.

And relationships are the key to everything in life.

Business, life, love…they are all based on relationships.

As a feminine woman, authenticity is the key.  Being who you truly are inside rather than hiding behind any kind of mask is the key to embodying your Femininity.

This applies online, offline, between the lines…all the time.

Step out from behind your online mask.

Be real.

Be yourself.

If you interact with me online, see me in a video, or meet me in person you’re going to get exactly the same person every single time.  In fact friends have told me that when reading my blog or posts online they can almost hear my voice as they’re reading it, as I write exactly the same way that I would speak if I were having a conversation with you face-to-face.

So no matter where or when you interact with me…you’ll get the full, 100% “Claire” experience every single time.

So I invite you to commit yourself to just one rule – If you would say it or do it this way in real life, do it online.  If not, don’t.

It’s that simple.

When you are completely and totally yourself, people can connect to the real you…and that’s when the magic happens.

Stay Fabulous (and real)!

Claire x

10 replies
  1. Lisa Cherry
    Lisa Cherry says:

    Great post and I couldn’t agree more (very much highlighted in the internet dating scene)!

    But, on a positive note, in a business arena my experience has been that when I’ve met someone on a one to one that I’ve met on line, that has mostly demonstrated the authenticity of that person. Not always….but mostly which is pretty amazing really when you think about it!

    loving your magic…

    Lisa x

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Thanks for sharing Lisa…and it’s great to know that you’ve had so many positive experiences in the business arena online! Thank you for sharing your magic with us… xx

      Reply
  2. Kris Hughes
    Kris Hughes says:

    What an awesome post! When I bought my first internet-capable computer ten years ago, I made a couple of vows to myself. First, I would always use my real name on line. I am quite opinionated, and I felt this would make me think twice about the tone in which I express my opinions, if nothing else. I prefer to “own” what I say, anyway.

    The second thing was that I would try to use social media to widen my circle of friends in the real world. It worked well, although I have to say in recent years it’s less effective as the trend seems to be for everyone to sit at home and text. Call me a dinosaur, but I dislike cell phones and texting intensely.

    One thing you didn’t mention in your article, that’s worth considering, is that some people are simply more confident with the written word than others. Some of the people who always post great stories on FB would have been great letter writers 100 years ago, or kept wonderful journals. Now, we just dump it all on the internet!

    Kris

    Reply
    • Claire
      Claire says:

      Thanks so much for your input Kris – really great point about some people being more confident in the written word, you’re absolutely right. I admire your commitments regarding interacting online and I think that the internet would probably be a more ‘real’ place to interact if everyone made a commitment to ‘own’ what they say, who they are and seek to expand their ‘real world’ connections.

      Great to hear from you! x

      Reply
  3. Allan Kleynhans
    Allan Kleynhans says:

    Great post Claire, great points. I have found this to be true on several occasions too. On the flip side I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people on-line who have now become close friends in a very short time frame and it was easy to develop those friendships because they were exactly the same as they showed up on-line. And I’m pleased to say, you’re one of them! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Peter Kevin Connell
    Peter Kevin Connell says:

    Great article…this is not just for women..it applies to men as well. You can find the “real” me at you Linkedin link above..just fyi. Happy week end and my very best back to you!

    Peter Kevin Connell (aka @todayinhh The Ill-Humored Author of Today in Heritage History)

    Reply

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