Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Managing my Image

Yesterday I finally entered the 21st century and committed myself to social networking--meaning that I launched a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account (God help me!), and created a LinkedIn profile. Yikes! And all of this makes me think about how lucky I was to travel through adolescence without the world wide web looking over my shoulder. True, it was somewhat cumbersome to limit my term paper research to library books (imagine the horror!). And undoubtedly I would have enjoyed the conveniences of emails and camera phones while shopping for prom dresses and dishing about my latest crush. But for what I missed out on in convenience I made up for in privacy. The privacy, for instance, to mature in the quiet spaces of my bedroom and the local Wendy’s and my high school cafeteria WITHOUT fear of my every move being diabolically archived for an eternity in digital form.
You get what I’m saying, here? I shudder to think of the possibilities. Me, sporting an unsightly hickey at track practice (ahem...I might have been a teensy bit boy crazy as a teen). Or me, trying on profanity for size just to impress my pubescent peers. Even worse, me caught being cruel to another girl less popular than my crowd. Or spreading gossip. Or rolling the bottom of my jeans.

All I can say is that I am sooo thankful that those images/videos of me happened before Web 2.0, and thus my reputation was safely sheltered long enough for me to find my bearings.

My point with all of this? I’m getting to one--I promise. You see, one of the features of a woman with je ne sais quoi is that her public image is consistent. The person you see at the party is the same person you’d see at the grocery store. Thus, you wouldn’t be...say...shocked to find her prim and proper at Tuesday’s church group after glimpsing a topless photo of her on Facebook after Saturday night’s happy hour. And you wouldn’t be disappointed to learn that she was both a gracious and polite hostess while also being a malicious gossip. And though you might find some unflattering photos of her rolling her jeans in junior high, she doesn’t engage in that kind of behavior any more.
In other words, she has integrity. She doesn’t pretend to be one type of person among certain company, and then change to suit a different crowd. And for heaven’s sakes, she takes a regular inventory of herself on the internet and pulls up the weeds!

With this type of woman, what you see is what you get. Her presence isn’t pretense.

What are your thoughts on managing your image in today's culture, with all of our fancy technology? I'd love to hear, so share your comments below!


  1. You know, it's such an interesting point you bring up. I, personally, am in a similar spot as you . . . what you see is what you get . . . I may have had some transgressions in a prior life, but I was lucky enough not to have them smeared across the internet. And so, the only pics you'll find of me on my facebook page are of my pups and I, or my hubby and I camping.

    What is interesting about this is how little people are aware of the fact that ANYONE can see that information. I am a recruiter, and have on more than one occaision had some wayward generation y-er facebook me because they knew I handled the hiring. What they don't think about is the impression that pictures of said candidate licking jagermeister off of some girl's naked back might give a potential employer.

    It's an interesting convergence between the private life and public/professional life that I think a whole generation has yet to understand the consequences of.

    I'll get off my soapbox, but I agree, that we were lucky enough not to have our private life on display for the world back in teh dark ages (pre web 2.0).

  2. I agree, Nicky! The line between private and public is such a gray one these days! And getting grayer by the minute. But I love the classic advice, "don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother or preacher to see!" Seems like that could go a long way for some people these days!

  3. I have a love/hate relationship with social networking. I want to be free to be myself...but have to admit that my "self" is not consistent. The girl that breaks into dance and ridiculous rap while making dinner with friends is not the same girl who goes to parent/teacher conference. And so that makes social networking tricky when your friends list varies from college friends to family to teachers.

    I obviously am not taking a picture of myself topless in a hot tub or anything like that...but it's a bit annoying to not be able to have a Facebook status complaining about my neighbor interrupting our dinner again when I know that my neighbor is checking my Facebook.

    I guess in my case, social networking requires some censorship which makes things less authentic and takes some of the fun out of cheesy sites like Facebook.

  4. Makes one long for the sound of silence, doesn't it?

  5. One of the things I've discovered about myself is that I enjoy social media for work...but not so much for personal stuff. I like having updates on my friends, but I'm a little too reserved to share a lot of personal details about myself on a regular basis. Also, I still think nothing beats face-to-face interactions and phone calls for really getting to know others. I need to do MORE of that!


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