Authenticity and Anonymity

It seems like there are a lot of posts recently regarding authenticity online. It has come up in recent HR Happy Hour shows, most notably in the recent interview with Drive Thru HR hosts Bryan Wempen and William Tincup.

Then, this weekend, I read 3 posts that got me thinking about the topic as it applies to me.

The first was by Krista Francis at Women of HR, who wrote about the challenge of being fully open online. She talked about deleting tweets (yep, I’ve done that) and she theorized that perhaps members of the HR profession are prone to self-censorship. We’re used to a certain level of confidentiality after all.

Krista’s article pointed to this one by Mark Stelzner at Inflexion Advisors. Mark’s focus was about honesty online, in particular with sites liked LinkedIn, where you have visibility over the claimed accomplishments of people who you know well. Mark was asking if we challenge those who we know are embellishing a bit, and concluded that a straight shooter in life is likely a straight shooter online.

Finally, I caught this post by Miriam Salpeter of Keppie’s Careers. She makes some convincing arguments for why you should be identified with your website.

I started this blog on Halloween, a day when so many put on a costume. This was a coincidence. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny, as I intended to write The HR Introvert in an incognito manner in part because it fits the theme. But articles like these give me reason to reconsider.

I don’t consider the blog to be un-authentic. I am not trying to pretend to be someone else. The writing is mine and comes from my experiences and my efforts to clarify ideas that I’ve had over many years of HR experience. I try to build on what I read in the current community, and as some of you know, I also comment from time to time on others’ blogs.

But why should you care what the HR Introvert has to say? And more importantly, why should you interact with someone who is choosing to be a little less than transparent?

In April when HRevolution is held in Atlanta, I think I will be there. The point of going is to learn more about my profession and about use of blogs, twitter, and other social media tools in my job. I plan to go because I have come to respect so many of the people who are going, and in particular those who have led in the development of this forum.

If I’ve learned anything from digging deep into my reader every week, and taking the time when I can to interact with others, it’s that you don’t need to meet face to face to benefit from one another’s expertise. But if you are going to take the time to do so, you have every opportunity ahead of time to connect in some way with the participants to enhance that actual event. I’ve come to respect the authors I am reading regularly, the HR leaders who are hosting shows and planning unconferences, and the people who choose to share via Twitter.

William Tincup defined transparency during the above mentioned interview as “I am the same guy on twitter, the same guy on Facebook, the same guy over here, and the same guy when you meet me.” I think I agree with that, and unless all the tickets get sold before I decide to go to HRevolution, I’m going to have to come clean soon.

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