I’ve been having a couple of light bulb moments recently. One of the big ones is about being myself online. I’ve been writing away here for coming up to a year (in November) and I’ve always done it anonymously. There are a few reasons for this. One, I’m really, really conscious about my online safety, and the privacy of my family. This stems from a real-life stalking incident I had earlier in the year, but also because I have quite close links with members of the police service.
Not because I’m a criminal or anything, just to clarify, but because I just do. Another reason for the anonymity is because of the need I felt to test the waters. It’s quite scary to put yourself out there for the world to read and potentially judge, so I’ve been hedging my bets somewhat to try and avoid that.
I also didn’t want to put my face and name out there too openly, as my writing has always been a safe place that I’ve used to express myself. That’s going to continue, as I’ve no plans to unveil my full identity or anything. The challenge surrounding that is that in this world of freelancing and the gig economy, it’s quite hard to be yourself without actually being yourself. So I’m lifting the lid a tiny bit and starting to come out of the proverbial closet a little.
Not all the way out, I’m comfortable in here.
The thing that prompted this recent revelation was an email I received a few weeks back from a producer at a TV show. They’d read some of my work and wanted to invite me to London to do an interview on live TV. Sounds great, right?
Well yes, except live TV kind of has an element of being
Now, I know that I’m not exactly Batman or anything and it’s not the end of the world if that happens, but I’m just not ready to go there yet. So, rightly or wrongly, I found a reason to not do it. But what that experience has taught me is that I need to take a few more lessons in being myself. It is really hard to do, for many reasons, not just my own paranoia about being tracked down again.
Being yourself online is difficult. It’s like releasing a wolf and then expecting it to come back for a dog treat when you want it to. I’m trying to be a bit braver and collate all my writing profiles and blog work into one space now and just be myself for once. It’s way harder than it sounds though.
I do want to gain actual paid work out of my writing at some point. That means I’m hyper-aware of the things I write. Aware of the language I use, aware of the things I say, aware of potentially pissing off future contacts. And yet, sanitising yourself leads to a miserable place, I know that from past experience. So what to do?
Be myself and write the absolute whole truth of my language and thought? Or play nice and spout safe, occassionally sponsored stuff that may earn me some much-needed income on the side? It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever struggled with being yourself online? If you’re a writer or blogger, in particular, you may have similar feelings to me on this topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment or you can get in touch over on Twitter.