Being Real

While reading the "Twitter Debates" last week, something struck a chord in me that seemed to be of a greater issue but I wasn’t quite sure what it was at the time. Two quotes that jumped out at me though, one from Tara Hunt and the other from Kathy Sierra, both seemed to be focal points for what I was trying to uncover.

By not having enough time to post my blog, I was "losing" much of my thinking along the way. As my blog became more and more ‘professionally focused’, I was losing the personal things that matter to me.

I don’t want to be that connected. And I also have a huge appreciation for the art of keeping the mystery alive. I don’t want to know that much about so many people, and I sure don’t want people to know that much about me… mundane or otherwise.

Now it wasn’t until today that I remembered an Oct 2005 post from Keith Robinson entitled When I Make Something and when I did, all of the connections I was looking for started falling into place. Keith’s post was about what he goes through internally when he creates something.

  • I care what you think.
  • I enjoy myself.
  • I stress myself.
  • I wonder if my mom will find typos.
  • I feel self-conscious.
  • I lose my head.
  • I try too hard.
  • I want it to be cool (!!!!)
  • I cringe.
  • I start out honest but end up a liar.
  • I listen to music. Mostly cheesy music.
  • I ignore e-mails.
  • I try to think positive.
  • I have a love/hate feeling about criticism.
  • I wanna be adored.
  • I second-guess myself. Three times.
  • I ask myself where the period should go.
  • I estimate errors.
  • I want to help.
  • I’m begging for attention.
  • I want to impress my wife.
  • I obsess over pixel placement.
  • I demand a second opinion.
  • I compete.
  • I press “save” or “submit” with much more than a second thought.
  • I avoid regret.
  • I …

As you can see from the list above, Keith probably isn’t alone in feeling this way, as I’m sure all of us can check off more than a few of the items on that list when we do something. Now what I remember more particularly about this post though is what I asked Keith in the comments afterwards.

Now how many of these things do you think about when you are just having a conversations with someone that you bump into on the street (i.e. friend, aquaintence, family, etc)? Don’t you wish you could just be yourself on your blog without having to think about all of this stuff?

Of course Keith replied "Yes." And in rereading that answer, everything I had been tossing around in my head for the past week finally came together and connected like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle revealing the greater issue I had been looking for. That being, why is it that when we do something work related (i.e. "professional"), we seem to want to "detach" our real selves from it? And yet at the same time, all I seem to hear from customers these days is that they’d like to learn more about the people behind the company, so that they can see there are real people there who are just like them.

For example, why did Tara stop posting more personal things on her blog (especially considering she has a business blog at Citizen Agency) and why does Kathy dislike revealing these personal things online? I mean everything I’ve read about Kathy seems like she’s loves human contact and interaction, particularly face to face. And yet when you’re face to face, that’s when people can see all of your peculiarities and nuances, things that we may see as being negative about ourselves, but what others see as making you a real person. Therefore, that which Kathy dislikes revealing online, I’m guessing she probably enjoys revealing face to face with others and it’s probably one of the main reasons people do want to meet her in person (such as myself but I can never afford to go to any of these cool events).

afterward, whatnot, Flickr

So why is it that we’re fine with revealing who we truly are when we’re face to face with someone (even a stranger), yet we’re uncomfortable doing this online (particularly when it relates to our work)? I mean isn’t that one of the things that everyone raves about regarding blogs, especially when looking to hire someone, is that we can get a good grasp of the person before hiring them so as to ensure they’re a good fit with our existing team from a personality perspective?

Also why are we so focused on trying to appear perfect all the time? I mean aren’t blogs a place where we can be more of ourselves and not have to worry about protocol so much. If so, why are we always worried about perfecting our posts before publishing them (i.e. taking days to structure and format them) instead of posting small pieces first that we join afterwards. I mean no wonder Tara finds Twitter so liberating, since there’s nothing stopping her thought flow when posting these small pieces of her life. Yet does Twitter have a patent on being liberating? What’s stopping people from being this liberating and real on their blogs?

That to me is what the real mystery of life is all about. It’s not so much not wanting to know about things but more that not everything can be explained or figured out, so don’t continually worry about it. In other words, stop spending so muc
h time trying to figure out life by putting it into neat little boxes and spend more time living it and sharing it with others. And yes, I’m not perfect either. I need to follow my own advice.  šŸ™‚

Update: Ok, I guess I understand now Kathy not wanting to reveal even general day to day info about her life when you have wackos out there posting stuff like this about her. Hmm, almost makes you want to start a community like The WELL of yesterday, where new members are recommended by those already within it instead of it being open to everyone (and "anything" which is how I’ll describe those who wrote the sick and twisted stuff about her).