You Share… But I’m Weird?

I often find myself stuck between IRL (In Real Life) and some random, isolated, spot on the web. I “follow” and communicate with people I have never met face to face. I see Twitter posts, blog posts, and Facebook posts. We might even have some kind of dialog going from time to time. But if you have never met me, nor I you,  it seems like the “information to basis ratio” is off. I find it strange that I know people, based on their internet presence, yet have no basis for knowing if what they project is actually who they are. It boils down to strangers knowing much about you, without knowing you.

With this in mind, I keep myself protected when and where I feel the need. For example, when our first child was born, I put up an online photo gallery dedicated to the thousands of pics I took and will take over the years, but it’s password protected. If you happen to be my friend on Facebook, you know who I am married to and have even seen a picture or two of my son, but the settings are such that it’s not open to everyone.

Here’s the thing I am hung up on… if I follow someone’s internet ramblings for whatever reason (similar interests, phase of life, city, whatever) and then I meet them in person, even though I know they had some crazy experience the other day because they posted about it, I’m afraid it would result in an uncomfortable “this guy is a weirdo stalker type” moment. To be clear, I am not “a weirdo stalker type”, but if I am meeting you face to face for the first time, yet I know much about you, it’s kinda strange. Right? I will say it depends on the person however. I have met a few people that I first came to know on Twitter and found the exchange comfortable. They even had that familiarity that strangers certainly lack when first meeting.

So am I making this up? I feel confident that I could weird someone out if I met them for the first time and was able to ramble off the many facts I know about them. Is it my fault for consuming the knowledge without the basis? True community is in person. The internet can help this, but it can not make or replace real, true community.

Maybe this is a good argument for paring down ones internet presence to one that is more similar to ones real life. Or perhaps the solution is to expand ones real life to better match their life online.

So… if I meet you and know much about you, will you find it strange? Or will you remember all of the things I know are “out there” for all to see?

3 Comments on “You Share… But I’m Weird?

  1. I’m torn on this one.
    Online community isn’t as great as it can be in-person, but it’s still some form and allows for some sort of depth in conversation that you may not have in-person. With that said, I really don’t like and use Facebook/Twitter that much because I’d rather interact in verbal/physical ways… yet I still occasionally give ’em a go.

    As of late though, I’m of the belief that just because someone says it’s a community because it’s in-person does not equate to being a true community in my view… which begs the question – how do you define “true community”? A word comes to mind of ‘authentic’ when I think of it…

  2. I agree wholeheartedly, Chris. Just because someone calls something X doesn’t mean it equates to anything close to X.

    Knowing someone is easier in person, but meeting with someone in person (even on a regular basis) doesn’t mean you really know them at all.

  3. I’ve found for the most part that I’m not weirded out by someone saying they saw me post X on Twitter or Facebook, etc. If it’s out there and I publicly post it, I don’t find it weird and I think most people I’ve met have thought the same. A lot of people I’ve encountered follow far fewer people than I do on Twitter and consequently keep up with EVERY tweet (me even trying to do that would be stupid hard and tiresome), so they end up following everyone’s posts, and I guess I just don’t find that weird. But that’s just me.