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?