Cultivating an Online Persona – Should I stay or should I go?

These two posts coupled with this past week’s revelation by one of my favorite bloggers of the terrible threats via blogs and email to her life and psychological safety (I cannot bring myself to even link to her report…do a search for Kathy Sierra and you will see plenty on the blogosphere about it, I’m sure) have me thinking about online personas and how they can be a help (employer likes what they see by/about you online) and a hindrance (you make someone mad and they haunt you virtually).

Why you should develop your online persona – Lifehacker

Web Worker Daily » Why You May Need an Online Persona

I guess if you get to be “famous”,  whether as a celebrity in People
magazine, etc or as a very A-list blogger – your popularity does tend to draw
attention from people who both LOVE LOVE LOVE you and those those who
HATE HATE HATE you. I have never understood the thinking of pure meanness. Why do some folks have to be so rude on the blogs? Even the helpful blogs like Lifehacker has its share of snarky/rude commenters. Is is the depersonalization of the blog? The ease of being anonymous…even with a username attached?

As I have been reflecting on this….I suppose I have somewhat of an online persona. I have been pretty consistent with a username – a shoutout to my Dad..the first wms I knew. Part of my work is to try new web services to help make recommendations to other. I always joke that I “sacrifice” myself to these services to make sure they will do what we want and not result in mostly spam and little utility. So, I have accounts all over the place ranging from Flickr to Ning to Traineo to Wikispaces.

I don’t comment on blogs, boards, wikis, etc very often. When I do, I try to contribute and not be snarky. I just think I try to maintain an online perception in the same way I hope I be perceived offline. But, I also know that I am basically an online unknown. And, that is fine with me.

Looking over the suggestions in the Web Worker Daily post…..which I know are mostly focused on people who are or might soon be in the job market:

  • If someone did a search for me, they would find mostly stuff about somebody else with my name. My name is in Friendster…not me. My name is in IMDB…not me. I’m in LinkedIn…not me.
  • My name is still available as a .com address. I doubt I will get it. I like my techy-feely domain.
  • I don’t post photos on Facebook or MySpace. I don’t go tease the PC users at Slashdot…so there really isn’t anything bad to “erase.”

So, my feely side still tells me to fly low under the radar and after reading about Kathy Sierra…I think I will. But, I will stay…I still feel strongly enough on the techy side that I don’t need to abandon the whole thing. I feel for Kathy, even though  I don’t know her, and that makes me understand the persona thing even more. I like her persona… I always have…and that makes me hope she will come back online at some point..to not let the “bad guys” win.