Sunlit Water

January 15, 2007

No Surprises

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 11:46 pm

At this point, I’ve met a lot of blog people in person (and they’ve been uniformly delightful).  One interesting thing I’ve found is that they’ve all been pretty much as I expected, even those of whom I had only vague impressions of what they would be like from their online personae.  I’ve also found that meeting people has given me a sense of perspective on who they are, so that I now read what they write online with a deeper sense of recognition than I had before.  Has anyone else noticed this?  Or has anyone gotten a different impression of people in real life than online?



  1. You’d figured out in advance that I had a second head? You’re good.

    Comment by ac — January 15, 2007 @ 11:51 pm |Reply

  2. Your commenting style gives away more than you think.

    Comment by teofilo — January 15, 2007 @ 11:52 pm |Reply

  3. ac is Zaphod Beeblebrox?!?

    Yeah, I’ve had the same sort of experience. People’s blog-selves have tended to match up pretty closely with their real-life selves (with the notable exception of Ben Wolfson. The boy’s all bark.) And I do read with greater understanding the things that people I’ve met write. I read it in their voice, I’ve found, which changes things.

    Comment by Matt F — January 16, 2007 @ 12:55 am |Reply

  4. I’ve found that I tend to read certain people’s comments in their voices (Jackmormon in particular stands out in this respect), although some people’s writing style differs enough from their speaking style that I don’t make the connection.

    Comment by teofilo — January 16, 2007 @ 1:43 am |Reply

  5. Yes, I’ve had the same experience. And also that while it doesn’t surprise any of us that there is this continuity between the personality expressed in the comments and the person encountered, people who do not belong to online communities are skeptical about this. There seems to be a virtual presumption that the internet is characterized by elaborately constructed false identities, and that this would be the norm. And not a few people would take it further than that, and ask why bother if it were not to create a false, or different persona? So that the disconnect we have with people who don’t belong to online communities is that they often have no idea why we do it.

    Comment by idontpay — January 16, 2007 @ 10:07 am |Reply

  6. I did not have this experience.

    Comment by ac — January 16, 2007 @ 10:18 am |Reply

  7. I got the expected gender wrong twice, for instance.

    Comment by ac — January 16, 2007 @ 10:23 am |Reply

  8. Gymnosperms with internet connections will cross you up.

    Comment by Matt Weiner — January 16, 2007 @ 10:25 am |Reply

  9. I haven’t been terribly surprised by anyone, but mostly it’s been because I haven’t had clear pictures in my head before meeting people. Where I have, they haven’t been terribly accurate.

    But I haven’t met anyone who, in retrospect, seems inconsistent with their online persona. And I absolutely hear people’s voices reading their comments now.

    Comment by LizardBreath — January 16, 2007 @ 11:58 am |Reply

  10. People who have met me say that I am much less intense in person. I didn’t realize I was coming across all intense, but I’ve heard it a few times now.

    Comment by Megan — January 16, 2007 @ 1:49 pm |Reply

  11. Your online persona does seem pretty intense, Megan. And LB’s bit about people not seeming inconsistent in retrospect is sort of what I meant in the post.

    Comment by teofilo — January 16, 2007 @ 4:00 pm |Reply

  12. Y’all would be surprised. In person I’m way laidback and agreeable, with special bonus goofiness when you get to know me. Somehow, people don’t hear the part about all the laughing. I’ve mostly given up on telling people so, in the hopes that one day we’ll meet and then they’ll see.

    Comment by Megan — January 16, 2007 @ 6:37 pm |Reply

  13. Hm. The first time I met someone in person who I had originally met online was (ahem) about 15 years ago. In general, I’d have to say that I’m very, very often wrong about physical appearance. Either I had a fuzzy picture that was wrong, or I had a clear picture that was wrong. Sometimes I am even wrong when the person has explicitly mentioned particular features (being tall, etc.).

    As far as personality, I find more often that people present one or more facets of their true selves online, and those facets may be less prominent in person. It’s not so much that they’re presenting a *false* image as a selected one. It’s not unlike people with a workplace persona that’s fairly distinct from their weekend persona, if that makes sense.

    Comment by Witt — January 16, 2007 @ 11:06 pm |Reply

  14. Apparently I’m a robot online. Others will have to say whether I’m appear as one in real life.

    Comment by pdf23ds — February 11, 2007 @ 10:45 am |Reply

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