In the not too distant past the web was an online realm separate from the real world, a place where people could hide in anonymity. Today the separation between the online world and the real world has become blurred, in fact I would say for many of us there is no difference any longer, they are one, our online world has fully integrated with our daily lives. I grew up online in the era of BBS’s where you never knew who you were interacting with and everyone used an alias. Today the vast majority of social network users are engaging online with their real names, and profile pictures.

What are you contributing to the web?

With Social Networking giving everyone the opportunity to engage and contribute online, you have to ask yourself “what am I contributing to the web?” Have you even considered what your online voice sounds like? Is it different than your offline voice?

Is there integrity in your voice? Are you offering advice and encouragement? Do you set out to inspire and motivate, or are you a negative voice that vents your real world frustration and offers nothing to the web? Just spend a few minutes reading your average You Tube comment thread, and you’ll know what I mean. It seems people love to express their displeasure and frustrations online creating a hostile and negative environment. These few thoughts above are legitimate questions that you need to ask yourself and consider. Some people may feel that I’m being overtly analytical, but when you spend as much time as I do online you get to know people that you don’t interact with outside of the online world. Everyone has a personality that they are sharing.

Perhaps you are a blogger? Or, consider your tweets, or your facebook status updates. Consider the content of the images you share on flickr, or tumblr. Consider the comments you share on websites and blogs. These various components are your online presence and they make up the way people see you online. You’re influencing others whether you know it or not.

Be Intentional about Being Positive

If you still think you can remain anonymous on the web, think again. Every time you say or post something you’re leaving your mark. It’s often tempting to leave a sarcastic or demeaning comment to someone who irks you, but keep in mind people are developing an idea of who you are. For myself, I came online determined to be a bright light, a positive voice, to offer encouragement, and advice. I leave my sarcasm, and frustrations elsewhere. Too many think they can use the web to troll around and vent their anger, their ignorance, their mad at the world attitude, and it leaves a trail of negativity behind them. The very worst of these types of people still hide behind an alias. For many who have undertaken the goal of blogging, you need to be conscious of your influence. Bloggers are leaders who have a strong ability to express their opinions and be heard (Read more about my thoughts on this and why YOU should be blogging, here). If part of your goal is to be successful online then you need to be working on your online persona today! Decide to be a positive voice on the web.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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