The excellent, fantasy indie-now-trad published writer Michael J. Sullivan wrote an excellent post on his blog about writers knowing every mention of themselves online (using such tools as Google Alerts) and how many interesting conversation can be found that way. But he also touched on a subject that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: the digital projection of ourself.
Michael posits that it’s not really you on the internet but an avatar. And this has inherient dangers. One is self awareness and objectivity. It’s very difficult for someone to know how others see or regard their online avatar. This makes giving an honest impression of yourself quite difficult. We all share many things on the internet, but not everything. When a reader or a friend online looks and evaluates our digital self they aren’t getting the full picture. Imagine a polaroid picture only half developed. How can anyone be sure of what they are seeing?
As we move more and more into the internet, it gets smaller. Mentions of our names can easily be tracked and conversations about us can be delivered into our mailbox. I’m not sure it’s a particularly good thing and I for one don’t have any google Alerts setup. Maybe it’s because I’m worried how my digital avatar is being received. One thing I don’t want to do is have to justify myself, or manipulate people’s opinion of me, because that’s just a bit sucky.
So how do we trust that we are projecting an accurate portrayal of ourselves through this digital media? Being honest is one, but it can’t do everything. Even and honest half-printed photo still only shows but one side.
As for other methods who knows? More experienced authors have probably developed intuitive and/or conscious methods of managing their digital projection. Maybe it’s something that just comes with time and experience.
Either way, as we move forwards in this digital world, and especially as writers, this is going to be an ever important area.