Skip to main content

Nobody wants to know

Remember the good old days when it was a parents’ job to keep their emotions to themselves?

Today things have supposedly changed - it’s all about “being real.” But even with all of that, being too honest can puncture a kids’ sense of security and stability.

Though we may seem taller and grayer, adults are basically kids inside. And when we are confronted with the vulnerability of someone we count on to be stable, it scares us and we don’t want to know. Remember that episode, on “Sex and the City,” when Carrie’s beloved mentor at Vogue confronted her with his penchant for cross-dressing?

I was thinking about this while reading an online discussion about one vs. multiple identities: Is it our choice to be different people on different social networks? Or would we prefer to be known as an integrated, multifaceted person by all the people we deal with?

In the discussion it was fairly clear, as I also heard in a real-life forum, that most people want to preserve their distinct identities. They want to be one person at work, another with the family, maybe a third with the college buddies, etc. There are boundaries.

The sociologist who kicked off the discussion with her blog argued that we are always multiple selves and that drawing clear lines between one and the other is healthy.

But I was not so sure. While it is true that we play different roles in different settings, it is also true that living too “divided” a life can lead to not only role conflict but psychological distress.

Indeed, social media has made the “problem” of multiple selves more immediate. Rather than talking in a distinct way to different audiences, frequently we tend to record our utterances electronically as we “perform” in different settings.

So an executive writes a formal email, and then turns around and sends a casual Facebook message or a Tweet. All of this is fine until the outside world is confronted by very disparate communications coming from the same person. It becomes easy, then, to judge them; to conclude that they are a hypocrite.

Thus the Mark Zuckerberg credo that we are always, only, one person.

On the surface, in a social media world, it may seem like our audiences want us to tear down those walls. But in reality, I think, they really don’t want to see all that much. Maybe once in a while, a glimpse. Maybe they want the essential values, the basic voice, to be consistent. But after that, I think, too much information all at once is disconcerting, upsetting, annoying, and even boring – TMI.

Perhaps the issue has to do not with how you portray yourself but with how you think of yourself internally. The more integrated you are – the more you have embraced the various aspects of your identity – the more comfortable you are exercising control over your “portrayal” based on the unique situations you find yourself in.

The way I see it, every actor plays different roles during their careers. Life in social media times is no different. It’s OK to personalize your behavior depending on the forum. You wouldn’t wear flip-flops to a formal dinner, and you wouldn’t wear a suit to McDonald’s. But wherever you go, if you’re out in public, just remember there’s always someone to take a photo for Facebook.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …