The Unexpected Benefit of Not Being Very Professional Online

Recent events (you know, these) reminded me of the mantra “never meet your heroes”. And I get that.  The disappointment of finding out that several of my literary heroes were… well, yeah.  Let’s not rehash that.

It was disappointing.  And I would have rather not had my high opinion of them punctured quite so readily.

But I wonder if that truism is quite so true now.

As far as I can tell, John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, and Jim C. Hines are all pretty much they way they present themselves online. Whenever I get to meet Chuck Wendig in person, the odds are that I’m not going to be horribly surprised. And I know that the way I present myself online is pretty much the way I really am.

Sure, it’s my “public persona”, but my public persona is essentially me, just running at 115.2%. (That 0.2% is the difference.) You might be surprised at how much I curse when I’m not “in public”, but otherwise? I am what’s on the tin.

And so I think about the recent shocks I’ve had where some people I’ve looked up to disappointed me. Badly. And they’re all people who don’t do a lot online. Maybe they’re older, maybe it’s because they’re closely guarded online, but they’re people whom I only know through their writing or artwork.

When I first started, I acknowledged that my online/public persona isn’t cool and polished and professional. My style (or positions) repel some people… but they attract others. When speaking to new writers, I’d point this out to them – that there was a cost and benefit to being outspoken online.

But now, it’s all too easy for “private” conversations and e-mails and forum posts to spread far beyond their original audiences. And I’m kind of insulated against that… because I don’t say anything markedly different in private than I do in public.

Anyone who would use my private (or semi-private) statements to avoid my creative work already has, because of my public statements.

So that’s one less thing that I have to worry about when people meet me.  If you like how I am on the blog, you’ll probably like me in real life.  And vice versa.

Except I cuss about as much in private as Chuck Wendig does in public.

Which probably doesn’t surprise you either.

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