Who Do They Think You Are?

On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.I have always loved this cartoon, but it didn’t hit me until today that it’s no longer true — at least not entirely.

You hear all the time now about how the Internet is killing community and socialization. How kids never talk to each other anymore and that they just stay holed up in their rooms. Well that doesn’t mean they’re not socializing.

Something I realized at the Elite Retreat back in December was that the Internet is very much a social place now. If you have any success as a blogger, it’s almost certainly due in large part to the relationships that you’ve made. The important thing to note, though, is that those relationships often defy the traditional definition of “relationship.”

For example, I count May, Kim, Mother Jones, apgaRN, Mama Mia, Beth, and many other bloggers as friends, but Kim is the only one I have ever seen (and that was only a single picture), and Mother Jones is the only one I’ve ever talked to on the phone. That’s it. And until Kim outed me a couple of weeks ago, none of them knew what I even looked like, yet I still had access to most of their passwords.

Want a better example of how integral relationships are now? Check out the Shoemoney/MyBlogLog brouhaha. Rather than sift through the facts and make their own decision, most people are choosing between Shoemoney and MBL based solely on who they like better.

Now virtually none of them have ever met both Eric from MBL and Jeremy from Shoemoney, so how do they know who they like better? They have created a profile of them in their minds based on how Jeremy and MBL have presented themselves online. That may bear no resemblance to actual reality, but perception is reality.

So they may not know you’re a dog, but it doesn’t matter. You’re what they think you are.

Who do people think you are? Have you ever given any thought to the persona you’re creating for yourself? If people like who they think you are, they’ll keep coming back. If they don’t, you’ll always have a greater struggle to attract and retain more readers.


  • Mama Mia

    February 23, 2007
    at 8:18 pm

    Thanks Shane! 🙂 this made my day – I love having friends from far away countries (LOL!) 🙂


  • beth

    February 24, 2007
    at 7:53 am

    My online persona and my real life persona, are essentially the same in that they I tend to over-edit what I say.

    In real life, people tend to think of me as quiet, an introvert. I have one of those internal censors that make me think very carefully before I open my mouth. I find myself doing the same thing when I am about to write a comment on someone’s blog. If I can’t come up with something clever, concise, and amusing in 30 seconds, I usually just give up and move on. This bothers me because really, comments are what fuels me, keeps me blogging. So I hate to be stingy with my comments for other bloggers.

    Bottom line – maybe I should just loosen up and not worry about being so pithy all the time! That, and the fact that in real life this makes me an “introvert” but in blog life this makes me a “lurker.”


  • Kim

    February 24, 2007
    at 10:48 am

    I have an overwhelming urge to bark right now! : D


  • You Should be Using MyBlogLog

    April 25, 2007
    at 12:03 pm

    […] admitted that he had screwed up and unbanned Jeremy. This was a watershed moment for MBL. As I wrote the day before Eric’s post, people were actively taking sides on this issue. Had Eric and MBL […]

  • […] (And I’m not even including the networking opportunities available. Talk about one of the best ways to build some great relationships.) […]

  • […] lessons I ever learned about making a living from the Internet is how crucial relationships are. No one who has had great success online did it all alone, and you can make some great contacts in the process of flipping sites — contacts that will […]