Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Your self-image

As a kid, whenever there was a lot to carry (supermarket bags, trash, bottles to the recycling bin) I liked to carry all bags at once, instead of running back and forth, and my mother always commented: "Lazy people carry themselves to death, hard workers run themselves to death."

Decades later, whenever I come back from Whole Foods or other stores I still try to carry all bags (even 20) at once. What does this mean? What does it say about my character?

My mother thought I was lazy. (I still don't know if she was serious.) My wife thinks I'm crazy. And for me it's just the most efficient way to deal with certain tasks.
Lazy? No.
Crazy? Sure
Efficient? Oh yeah!

Obviously, image is a double-edged sword: How do you see yourself? And how are you perceived by everybody else? You might think of yourself as a deep thinker while others regard you as a superficial blow-hard. Or in your mind you're team player while others think you are just about individual achievements.

How do social networks change our image? Are you the same person on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, private message boards, etc.? Are you trying to be somebody else or just being the best you can be? Would non-virtual friends perceive you as the same person on social networks? Or would they be astonished about this 'other side' of you?

We've obviously come a long way since the first personals when everybody loved walks on the beach and a perfect evening was a glass of wine and a good book. But how close are we to our self-image and perceived image? Blogs seem to be the closest to reality. You might fool me with a few posts but scanning hundred posts will give me a good idea of the real you. Much, much harder with Facebook.
Facebook still seems to be close to the good old personals. Yes, there's much more detailed information and details about your private life/preferences but it doesn't reflect that much on your image and character. You can still be the guy in the bar flashing fancy business cards and claiming to be the master of the universe, while in reality you're a lonely soul try to connecting with the outside world.

Social Networks are in their infancy. Facebook is bit more grown-up than MySpace but the real you is not showing up at Facebook. Yet. It will take years of social networking for us to grow up on and with these networks. Currently, we build connections. In the future we will build friendships. Will it be on Facebook, niche networks, private networks? Time will tell.

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