The Great and Powerful Online Presence

When I was fifteen, my family moved from Los Angeles to Seattle.  Socially, I had to start over again, which might have been daunting for a popular kid, but for me it was an opportunity to rebrand.  I had never been a popular kid.  Maybe, as a stranger in a new city, I could make myself different.

There’s a book in there somewhere, and we know how it ends.  I wasn’t able to make myself different – although I did try.  I transferred from a private to a public school and traded my uniform for regular clothes, which gave me a chance to experiment with identities.  One day I’d be the girl in khakis and a Gap button up with a baggy sweatshirt (this was the early 90s; don’t judge).  The next day, I was Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful.  I went hippie; I went grunge; I went team captain, student council, and drama club.  But none of my costumes or labels, however defined and protected they sometimes made me feel, meant anything, because I was still me.  And I didn’t entirely know who that was.

Now I’m revisiting that same mental and emotional place.  I’ve moved suddenly from private to public; my writing, which previously mattered to a very limited audience, will soon be published.  So I’m working on developing my online presence, because that’s a Thing I Need to Do.  I look around Twitter and Facebook and Blogger and WordPress and Tumblr and Instagram, and I see that I need to figure out where I fit into it.  But I don’t know who I am.

How am I going to frame myself up?  What should I delete?  What should I talk about?  What should be off limits?  Should I try to be funny?  Political?  Wise?  Intellectual? Should I be informational?  Squeaky clean?  Should I share like the whole world is my best friend?  Should I give advice on writing as though I’m an expert?

Should I even be writing this post, or will I regret it?

I consider the people whose online personalities I admire, and the truth is, there’s no one style or type that I’m drawn to; what makes me stick around and read somebody’s work, in any forum, is authenticity of voice.  I like people who sound like real people.  People who are themselves.

And maybe who I am is just a person with a lot going on, who rarely has anything pithy to Tweet, who can only get around to blogging every two weeks, and who just writes whatever is on my mind when that deadline creeps up on me (like it did today).

I could try to finesse that point of view.  Focus it.  Turn it into something thematic, and brand myself in an easily recognizable way.  But the point of getting older, I hope, is to learn something, so I’m looking back at fifteen-year-old me and taking a lesson.  I can try on a new online presence every day, hoping to fit myself into clear categories because I’m not sure who to be.

Or I can write what I want, when I want, and let the figuring out part happen whenever it happens.

B sounds like a lot less hiking to get to the same place.

I’m going with B.



  1. Yes! Be “B”!! Be you: wonderful, quirky, snarky, intelligent, eloquent, insightful you. Meg, you are awesome.

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