On the Internet, we write ourselves into existence.
That’s a wonderful thing. It allows us to reach audiences that we otherwise wouldn’t reach. It allows us to try on personas – and perhaps to reinvent ourselves – in ways that may be difficult in our everyday, face-to-face interactions.
But it also can be misleading.
Several recent incidents have caused me to revise some of my pre-existing beliefs about a few fairly prominent education bloggers. I now think and feel differently about them than I did just a few months ago, simply because I now have more information and thus a more complete picture of who they are.
I’ve been thinking about this as I get ready to head to the ISTE conference later this week. I won’t necessarily be wary as I interact with my edublogger peers, but I may be just a little less willing to accept things as they appear on their face. Not much, just a tiny bit. Most of the time people are as they appear – face-to-face or online – and I’d rather be a naive, trusting optimist than a negative, surly skeptic. But we have to recognize that we all also have secrets, ones that may remain uncovered because of geographic and/or interactional distance.
That edublogger who’s active in Twitter every evening and has a bunch of followers? He seems cool but maybe he beats his kids.
That edublogger with 20,000 subscribers and a heart of gold online? She seems great but maybe she’s cheating on her spouse. Or a cutter.
That charming, effervescently cheery and witty edublogger that everyone loves to hang out with at the conference? He seems wonderful but maybe he’s embezzling funds. Or a kleptomaniac. Or a drunk driver.
As you head to the ISTE conference later this week, or simply interact with folks online, I leave you with the thought:
Can you ever really know that edublogger beside you?
Update: I’m not as pessimistic as this may read. I’m just thinking out loud here…