I've seen an interesting phenomena take place over the past few months. There are several people I follow online and I've seen many of them begin to back away from the public personas that made them reputable in the first place.

It's not that they've changed. It's not that they've taken on new personas. It's that they've reached a position in the community where the cost of a misstep is compounded by their fame.

I've seen individuals previously known for their outgoingness not publish something controversial out of the fear of a public backlash. I've seen others create secondary publication channels - less visible sites on Tumblr, for example - rather than put a potentially inflammatory statement on their more public, primary channel.

I've seen people make a statement, then immediately back away and recant because they can't put up with the negative publicity of that statement.

Don't Be Fake

The problem with all of these scenarios is that you're abandoning your true self. You're selling out for popularity, fame, and a high Klout score.

You're stepping away from the characteristics that define you and instead allowing yourself to be defined by the demagogical ebbs and flows of the community around you.

You're betraying your brand.

Be Yourself

So long as you're consistent, there is absolutely no danger in being yourself online. The personality and character that has carried you this far will continue to carry you in the future.

That said, increased visibility will lead to an increase in the volume of negative feedback. You ignored this feedback when you started out; don't start listening to it now.

This past weekend, I saw a plethora of tweets take off - about race. Some were more politically charged than others. Some were more emotional than others. Every single one triggered some kind of response.

After re-tweeting a particular message, for example, a random follower of Chris Lema threatened to unfollow him in retaliation. Chris' response was wonderful:


It was wonderful because Chris is the kind of person who is true to his character and identity. He's not going to be defined by the following/unfollowing of individuals in his personal tribe. Chris has a brand, he understands his brand, and his messaging is always on target.


The moral of the story: be yourself at all times. Understand who you are and what you stand for. It won't always be popular, but so long as you're consistent to your internal identity, I'm confident you'll come out just fine.