How Important is Your Personal Life?

August 28th, 2008 · No Comments

One troubling question I’m repeatedly facing is: How important is it to allow people access to your real life?

Have you read my blog?!?!

Have you read my blog?!?!

If you look at the successful bloggers, you will find that almost all of them do things to promote themselves as a brand attached to their blog. They appear in interviews, they do podcasts and video clips, and so on. They basically are willing to use “Internet fame” to help promote their product.

Now obviously this is a valid and good tactic; the question however is whether it’s necessary. Can you have a successful site without putting up pictures and videos and letting people into your personal life?

My first observation is that it is an obvious mechanism to build trust. The more I let you know that I am a “real person,” the less you fear that you’re being manipulated by a spammer or a Viagra salesperson or a cold-hearted corporation. Much of the same impulse that drives the stigma of monetization makes people leery of anonymity. In fact, anonymity is one of the best and worst parts of the Internet. While we all like that we can look up information on our reason for incontinence without everyone knowing about it, we don’t necessarily all enjoy people who use the anonymity to spam us or spout racist nonsense and such. Thus the more “signals” you can put on your site that you are “real,” and to some degree “not malevolent,” the better.

My second observation is that I’m not entirely sure why I’m so opposed to things like putting my image or voice on the Internet. I’m an introvert and greatly enjoy my privacy. I’m one of those people who would not only rather be rich than famous, I’d rather not be famous. All that being said one wonders why I’m so convinced that I am going to suddenly become dazzlingly famous if I put a picture of myself on my websites.

When I have worked out with girlfriends in the past I have always tried to get them to do fewer reps with heavier weights. To forestall a weightlifting debate let’s just say that I believe there are some benefits to doing that at least some of the time. Anyway, whenever I would suggest that practice, they would always tell me they didn’t want to “get bulky.” I always thought that was a ludicrous worry. Did they really think that by lifting a heavier weight twice a week they would develop the kind of muscle mass that people strain for lifetimes to develop? Perhaps this is similar to my fear of “Internet fame.” One picture does not a Paris Hilton make.

Ultimately, I would have to say that at the very least it is going to be a serious impediment to be overly concerned about your privacy when trying to develop an online product. The same things that make me leery about having my “personal information” out in the ether are the same things that make people leery of trusting a site without—at a minimum—the ability to put a face to the name/pseudonym/website/whatever.

Categories: Main blog narrative

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