Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are We Who We Are Online?

How does one look beyond a public persona?

I am not a person who is in the public eye at all, thank God. But, still, anytime someone sees me outside of my home, I am "in public". So, what does a person see and determine about me by simply seeing me? or watching me? What impression does a person get by reading my blog? Seeing me work? Watching me with friends? Observing me at church? Walmart? The bank?

One thing about these "public forums" and such things in the "age of information" and/or "communication" is that we, people in general, basically communicate only tiny tidbits of information through pixels on an LCD screen. These "writings" convey little about the character/personality of the writer, although some writers do reveal deep personal thoughts and/or feelings, it isn't the whole story. Often in today's world we conclude what a person is like through a few Instant Messages, comments on a forum, and/or a blog post. These things are minimal and in no way encompass the entire being of a person. I wish we would remember that.

It is hard enough sometimes to understand a person we have been acquainted with for years, so why do we feel like we can know "who" a person is by a few simple writings. Writings in pixels...NOT handwriting, where you can sometimes see the intensity or gentleness of a certain stroke that may reveal a degree of accuracy in portraying a real thought or emotion. We can't detect inflection or the tone of a voice through pixels, like we can when actually speaking to people. We can't see facial expressions through pixels.

A carefully crafted word or punctuation does have power. Power to offend, to hurt, to encourage, to inspire. Words typed and displayed on a screen can reveal things about a person, but it is limited. What we read is not WHO that person is. We shouldn't jump to conclusions and assume we know a person when we have had very limited engagement with them.

I'm sometimes amazed at how much we miscommunicate in this era of communication.

I'm sometimes amazed at how ill informed we are in this age of information.

Things aren't always as they seem.

"I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am."

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