You are not alone if you are struggling to juggle all online and real-life versions of yourself, writes Maria Rushe.
Recently, the Dolly Parton challenge’ circulated Instagram where everyone posted four different images; How they look on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tinder.
Each showed how their profile picture on each of their social media platforms showed various sides to their personalities. It went viral.
It was fun and harmless and I happily posted my own. It was one of those silly, fun, giggle-inducing challenges and most of us enjoyed watching the collages popping up.
We all wear multiple hats.
As parents, we have eleventy billion hats to wear in a single day; fun Mammy, strict Mammy, cross Mammy, huggy Mammy…the list is endless.
We have so many different sides to us; so many different qualities that we reserve for different versions of ourselves.
This USED to simply be our personalities, our “Identity” and we only showed each identity to the people who needed to see them.
Now however, with social media and the necessity of online profiles, we are ALL of our identities at once, to whoever wants to see us.
Once upon a time, we changed our hats as we changed situations throughout the day.
We were ‘Mammy-Me’ at home, ‘Professional-me’ at work, ‘sassy-me’ with partner or when out, ‘fun-me’ with friends etc.
As the day progressed, we put on whichever hat suited each situation and while most of us wore many many hats throughout the day, we were usually able to wear one at a time.
We still do this in our “real lives” each day.
But now, online, we often wear lots at the same time. It depends which platform you are using. There is an awareness of how you are viewed.
On LinkedIn, it’s ‘Business-Me’ all the way; Trying to come across as professional, approachable, reliable, intelligent and to stand out without shouting too loudly. Aware that any eyes are watching and that possibilities are constantly coming and going.
On Twitter, it’s socially and morally ‘Vocal-me’… Trying to make a point without inviting every troll from Trollville for tea, trying hard to be heard in a wave of wit and controversy. Trying not to tag the wrong person or use the wrong hashtag. Most of us aren’t quite sure which “me” to put on Twitter.
On Instagram, it’s usually more ‘Fun-Me’ for most people. To share or not to share? To filter or not to filter? To care or not to care? It depends on why you use it.
Thankfully, I don’t DO Tinder… I don’t think I’d have the energy for that craic anyway!
For me, I have my blog, so on that, I’m wearing my Mammy-hat, my wife-hat, my writer-hat, my friendly-hat, my honest-hat, my sensible-hat, my opinionated-hat and sometimes my Fancy-hat. 🙂
Then on my business page, it’s my pro-hat, my motivational-hat, my fitness-hat, my marketing-hat…
Add on Facebook, where again, many of us have personal pages as well as blog or business pages, not to mention all the groups we might be in for business or hobbies or kids’ activities.
And yet, once again, popping onto one little app for 20 minutes can be exhausting as we switch our hats over and over again depending on who we are interacting with.
Often, we flick from app to app, navigating a few different platforms and therefore many different hats at once.
… and suddenly we can see why we can find ourselves wearing so many hats that our neck begins to crane under the weight and sometimes, it all gets too much.
There’s a lot of falsity on the internet. Lots of “Just Be YOURSELF” and “You do YOU!” (I’m all for these by the way), but hang on a second. We are MORE than just one version of ourselves. It’s completely natural.
Someone who is only ever ONE way online, is probably the one who is false.
Being different versions of yourself is not false. We have ALWAYS done it. We always will. We ALL put on the phone voice, or speak in different voices depending on who we talk to. (Who’s a cutey witto baby gurl? Where’s a Mammy’s bestest wittle beebee?”)
We’ve all got different personas that we adopt depending on our physical audience; Boss, friends, clients, students, customers, relatives, neighbours, colleagues, family… everyone who knows you in real life, knows a different version of you.
Online is no different, and it’s not fake to show all of your different sides.
It’s a must, especially if you have a business. The difference is however that it’s constant and it can be all at once.
In real life, it’s a bit more simple.
At home, I’m Mum and wife.
At work, I’m colleague/friend.
In my classroom, I’m teacher. (and even that depends on the age of the class in front of me.)
In the gym, I’m motivating Maria, trainer and smiler.
In my classes, I’m strong and invincible and Duracell Bunny.
In my rehearsals, I’m loud and bossy and creative, and all the things a Director must be to mould 60 talented adults into a show.
With friends, I’m… well it depends who I’m with I suppose. We have different friends who bring out different sides of us too, don’t we?
And when you combine all of the real life hat wearing with the online hat wearing, it’s exhausting.
Sometimes, when the hats all pile up, we get tired.
Sometimes, all of the hats topple us over. For most of us, we have to pick up all the hats and keep them on our heads; all are valuable and necessary. Very few of the hats can be removed completely, (not without HUGE life decisions!)
But what we can do to lessen the weight, is to sometimes switch off our online selves and focus on the real life Me.
Remember that you can switch off. That you don’t have to answer every message immediately. That you can pause platforms for a few hours, or days, or weeks… the internet police are not going to hunt you down.
Keep wearing all of your hats. Wear your favourite hats most and often.
But when the hats get too heavy to wear so many at once, take them off for a while, and just be you.
And remember, every one has their own style and we all wear different sizes. 😉