The Voices We Choose To Use Online

The majority of my conversation online is here on 35hunter – the posts themselves and the ensuing chat in the comments.

I also read and comment on a handful of other blogs, plus Flickr.

Given that I don’t use any of the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), my online footprint is pretty tiny.

Over the years I’ve developed a voice in writing, and it’s one that’s actually very similar to how I am offline.

Just perhaps a little more eloquent, considered and thoughtful. Occasionally witty.

But largely, how I speak here is how I would if we were sitting having a discussion around photography in person.

I’ve also avoided having nicknames or handles or pseudonyms.

In person I like to use a person’s name when I’m speaking with them, so trying to mirror this online when someone is called sunwavewarrior or livingmybestlife75 feels false and, well a bit silly.

Fine to use that as your blog name, but when you want to build a personal rapport with people on online, for me it’s a major barrier.

Imagine how ridiculous that would be in person –

“Hey my name’s sunwavewarrior, all lower case, no spaces, what’s yours?”

“Er, it’s Dan.”


I have noticed subtle changes in how I speak online, however.

At the core there are two guiding voices.

One is the more technical, geeky, gear focused photographer (and indeed this applies across other topics and interests too).

Then there’s the more emotive, poetic and soulful side of me, who’s more interested in how a camera makes me feel and considering why we photograph at all, than any tech spec.

Both my inner geek, and inner poet show up regularly, just usually one is a little more dominant than the other at any one time.

I also find that sometimes my “voice” matches the blog I’m commenting on.

Again this is a little like real life matching and mirroring, where we find our approach adjusts depending on who we’re speaking with.

For example on Jason’s Darts and Letters, where his organically poetic text tumbles freely, interwoven with a strong affinity with nature, I find my comments drift towards a similar tone too.

Then sometimes wonder if I should be more like that all the time, including on 35hunter.

More personal, informal, poetic, spontaneous.

But how about you? How similar is your online voice compared with how you are in person? Do you have different personas on different sites? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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7 thoughts on “The Voices We Choose To Use Online”

  1. I admire your transparency Dan. I am on FB only under an assumed name, and only because our animal rescue work requires it. Sometimes people have good reason to remain anonymous online. Some of us have a “Past” and have no interest in being found. To give one example, I was dating a lovely woman, and was particularly fond of her two young daughters, when she revealed that she was in a witness relocation program, and I realized that I knew her ex-husband. He had killed numerous people, including members of his own family in particularly nasty and unpleasant ways, and was on his way to kill her when he was apprehended. Shortly thereafter they were suddenly relocated to a new community. In my years as an addict and alcoholic, I made plenty of contacts I regret, and have no wish to be found out here in the sticks, just thankful for my wholesome, boring day to day existence.

    1. This sounds very similar to a film we watched with our daughter the other day where a woman had started a new life under a relocation program. She was formerly a criminal and her old contacts found her and wanted her to do one last heist. It’s not something I think of happening to “real” people, just in the movies, but of course it does.

      I’ve led a rather sheltered life over here in the English countryside!

  2. Each of us has dimensions of ourselves, aspects perhaps, that come out only in relationship to other people. Certain other people, to be precise. I remember I had a girlfriend in my early 20s who embraced my inner geekiness and I was able to be full-on geek with her, and I frankly loved it. Nobody else in my life has ever brought that out of me. Not even when I’m alone can I reach it like I did with her.

    I think of blogs as peoples’ living rooms. When I comment here, I am in your living room speaking to you directly. I will adapt to the ways of your house. But when you come to my blog, you’re in my living room and I use the voice that is fully, genuinely me. I don’t see this as self-editing or somehow inauthentic, but simply respectful.

    1. That’s very well put Jim. I think most of the people that I interact with here follow a similar path. Conversations on WordPress are more genuine than in other (FB, Instagram) platforms i find. Well, i actually don’t really use FB for photography and Instagram is a neverdnding stream of imagery with very little conversation.

    2. Jim, yes, that’s spot on about different people bringing out different sides of us.

      I used to know this girl called Anne who was a friend of a close friend. I didn’t know her all that well, but we had this connection where we could have the most random, sprawling conversations in front of others, baffling everyone, not least of all because we could speak as if we had lived every moment we were talking about, like every word was absolutely genuine.

      We were kind of partners in improvisation, and it was thrilling. I’ve never had anything like that with anyone else.

      My inner geek is fairly muted much of the time but does seep out sometimes and my wife casts an arched eyebrow in my direction. She quite likes it really I think!

      Yes the living room analogy is excellent. Blogs are like our living rooms, and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, are outposts owned be someone else, like bumping into a friend in a busy mall and not being able to have a proper conversation because of the surrounding noise and distractions.

  3. I’m not sure that my online persona. When I talk to myself, it’s more “stream of consciousness” which is why my website tagline is “A personal website by Khürt Williams, with inchoate ramblings on technology, photography, and geekery.”

    However, I am not often able to recreate this when writing. I’ve always struggled with this and only did well in liberal arts college by being very organised when writing.

    When I want to leave a comment, but I can’t organise my thoughts or find the right words to express myself, I often skip commenting or just use the like button.

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