I love it when a person appears to be genuine -- they are whoever they say they are. But let's face it, most people put up a public image or decorum, either online or in real life, either out of necessity or personal preference. For example, the public Robin Williams is very different than the private one. It's not to say he's not a genuinely good person, but there's a strong difference. And that's not reserved for celebrities only.

I was working on a song which talked about building up walls in our lives. I certainly have my own walls, my own defense system. I'm pretty much the same guy you see on here, but in meatspace I'm a little more quiet, more shy, and less argumentative.

As writers, we also seem to have to project a certain outward image as well. I have to constantly remind myself that I have to appear professional, well-spoken, and try not to be too outrageous, for example. I have a public identity here. People may have read my work. Agents and publishers may be visiting these sites. And I sometimes wonder if I've revealed too much about myself. I remember when I first approached my now-publisher, she said: "So, you're the infamous so-and-so on such-and-such website." I was mortified (don't worry, everything turned out fine).

There are times, though, when I'm really tired of being on guard, or trying to project a certain image, at least professionally. I know it's necessary, but then again, why can't we let our hair down more often? It's not to say we all pretend to be someone we're not, but still, we can't put up a guard and then complain, "No one understands me." It's indeed a contradiction.

What do you think? Do you put up a different public image than your private one? What are you feelings about that? Do you think it's necessary since we have to socialize with others and a civilized society requires judgment and decorums? Or do you think people should be true to themselves at all times?


Carpe Diem said…
You left me thinking, Ray. I do not have a public image--and probably won't have one in a long time--, but when I do, if I ever do, I'll try to keep it as close as possible to my real self. It is nice to see a celebrity to be like they are--but then again, what if we're seeing the image those celebrities want us to see?! So depressed now.... ;)
Marianne said…
Well, I don’t think I have to worry about a public image so much yet, but it’s true there’s always pressure to appear professional no matter what. (Even if we’re not publicly known, we might want to be and won’t want to ruin our chances like you said.) But I tend to reveal a lot about myself on my blog because I don’t really get a chance to reveal as much in real life and it’s a nice outlet. If people come across it and still have respect for me, great. In fact, that’s better than great because it’ll mean they’re seeing the true me and they like the true me. I wish there were more opportunities for people to ‘let their hair down’ like you say.

I’m a bit of a latecomer to your blog despite seeing you around on AbsoluteWrite a lot, but better late than never, huh?
jodi said…
hmm, good question. (btw, halfway through your book, very nice :)

it sort of reminds me of "lava" by Bell.

but...yeah, you got to be careful. People who say you should be true to yourself sometimes take self-righteousness to an extreme. I have stuff floating out on the internet from years back when I wrote letters to the editor. I don't want to be known as that pastry-making anti-terrorist, traffic and parking obsessed nut-job. It was different when you could control the info-out. Now the info-out is always info-in someone's RSS feed.

So yes, decorum is important. People have long memories and for everything else--there's Google.
Brenda said…
I think we should be true to themselves and let the chips fall where they may.
Ray Wong said…
Hi everyone, and welcome to my blog!

Thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, I think the Internet does change things -- you have no idea what's floating out there and for how long. I sometimes Google myself just to make sure there's nothing bad going around. LOL.

There are, of course, facets of myself that I'm not willing to reveal for the whole world to see -- some things are better left unsaid and private. But what you see here is really quite what you get -- sometimes goofy, sometimes serious, sometimes intelligent, sometimes dumb... but it's all me, and I do hope people like what they see here. If not, then, oh well, their loss, right?

I never thought about my "public" image even when I was acting, etc. simply because I wasn't known at all. But now if you Google my name I am the first on the list, and my book is out there. I have articles written about me. That kind of changes things a bit, not a whole lot, but a bit. That makes me realize, especially with the Internet, it can come back to haunt me 10 years from now when I become the hot shot writer (knock on wood)... It's a very interesting time.
Anonymous said…
You can be true to yourself and still be diplomatic. We live in a social world. The truth is, if you are mean and nasty and do this is public, some people may not like you for it and some people will like you for it, and in the end its who you want as a friend, that dictates, how you behave around people. So, there is no right or wrong except if you are attracting the people you dont want.

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