I’m currently working on a two session learning opportunity for the 2019 ABCUSA Biennial, and a big part of session one will focus on encouraging folks to be as much as their whole self when interacting online. Why? Because many of the negative interactions we have online spring when people are operating from one aspect of their personality, typically triggered by fear or anger, to the exclusion of all others. When triggered, compassion and empathy often get tossed out the window.
It’s a good theory, but it also got me thinking about how many different versions of my own personality that different people think is “me.” Something that is true in both virtual and meat spaces.
- Some folks know me as a techie.
- Some folks recognize that I’m a pastor. Some of these folks even realize what that means.
- Some folks know I love to sing, and even used to be a soloist way back in High School.
- Some folks know how much I adore the depths which are there to be explored in Christian worship.
- Some folks know I’m a history nerd.
- Some folks think I’m a writer.
- Some folks know I used to want to be an actor.
- Some folks even consider me witty 1.
But what I find interesting is how few of my connections know all of these things about me. A lot of people among ABCNJ have never heard me sing, or even seen me functioning as a pastor. Folks on facebook often interact with me based only on certain aspects of my makeup, and ignore the ones they either don’t agree with or understand. There are very few people alive who are likely to remember me wanting to be an actor. And those who interact with me online only will never discover how boring I am in person.
It’s a fascinating thing to look at my life and realize I’ve been segmented psychologically because of the different roles I play among my relational connections. Maybe that’s why I find the idea of maintaining new social media accounts exhausting 2. I always try to be me online 3 , rather than a caricature, but it’s difficult to pull this off when those with whom I are interacting keep instinctively trying to limit my sense of self to aspect by which they know me. It’s not malicious, and I certainly do the same thing because we all find connections to others through avenues we find enjoyable, but it does feel limiting.