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Are You Afraid to Be Yourself?

Are You Afraid to Be Yourself?

Do you suffer from “lurker syndrome”? Where you would like to participate but just can’t?

I talk to bloggers a lot in private, for fun, and professionally with coaching clients and my Authority Blogger Course members. One of the issues that comes up repeatedly is fear of putting yourself “out there”.

Symptoms manifest in many ways, for example course members being shy about joining my private forum, and also with things like Blog Action Day, not wanting to post about potentially controversial topics.
In these calls I try to work out what the underlying issues are. We tend to find the causes are:

  1. Shyness – I find that actually getting out and connecting with people helps cure shyness. When I was a teenager I was too shy to even order a Big Mac, now I find myself facing auditoriums of strangers!
  2. Fear of backlash – This is an all too common problem, especially if your work finds its way onto Digg or YouTube, but the main solution to this is to either A) only communicate what you truly stand by and B) ignore random internet idiots (hard as that may be)
  3. Revealing too much – You have to set boundaries of what you will and will not talk about. While I have likely revealed way too much over the many years I have been working online, there are still things that I don’t mention. We all have lines we won’t cross, work out yours and stick to them.
  4. Competitors – Competition is the easiest issue to overcome. In blogging competitors can be your allies, and also giving ideas should not be a worry because execution is the hardest part, and most people talk a lot but do little!
  5. Losing audience – Polarizing an audience can be a good thing if you actually believe what you are saying. Last year I lost a bunch of people when I talked about the environment Blog Action Day, but my over all audience grew. Rather than try to vaguely please everyone, focus on delighting your core audience.

There have been other reasons, such as ex-spouses tracking people down, bosses learning about side business, even fear of the tax man :)

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Do you fear being yourself online? If you can, tell us about it in the comments …

View Comments (8)
  • Great post Chris. Years ago my two problems were Shyness and Fear of backlash, but after spending many hours ‘reading’ various forums, yet never contributing, I came to realise that everyone has a ‘controversial’ view in someone’s eyes.

    Generally, there will be at least as many people that agree with your view, as disagree and those few individuals that are simply there to flame any view that disagrees with their own, aren’t worth worrying about. :)

    Also, the joy that I get from being able to assist people in forums, blogs, etc., far outways the views of the odd idiot in the wings that’s just waiting to cut you down.

  • I agree with Steve. I’m proud of what I write and the spin on opinions I have.

    I think maintaining an internet presence with your own name is important too. If someone Googles me they will find my site and the communities I participate in – and if someone does have a dissenting opinion of my views that’s fine too, but enough of my substance will balance it out.

    It also forces me to write clear and concisely, (usually,) and put thought into what I say on the ‘net.


  • Great post and a much needed topic to be covered. I see lurkers everyday and used to be one of them out of shyness (big surprise to those who know me). What’s important to remember is that you can’t please everybody all of the time, you will have dissenting opinions and it’s not the end of the world :-) Get out there and get social :-)

  • Good post.

    As a minister my problem comes when people read my blog and make judgments about me without engaging me any further. In the Evangelical Church conformity is expected. Unfortunately, I don’t conform very well and I blog about it. Some people love it…..others hate it. I just try and be open and honest. I may not be right but I want to be wrongly open and honest :)

  • Thanks folks :)

    I think you have to jump in and be prepared to be called on what you write. If you are open to criticism, and believe what you write, and are not going to cause problems to family, friends or career … if you get insulted, who really cares what some random internet troll has to say? :)

  • If you don’t open your ideas up for criticism, they don’t have any room to grow.

    Hunter S. Thompson had a great start on a title for a book. “Fear and Loathing…”

    Most people fear the loathing. Afraid that someone will hate their ideas. Or ridicule them for expressing the idea. Or despise them for the very way they express themselves.

    Feel the fear…and face the loathing.

    It’s not about you. It’s about setting an idea free so that it can live.

    Any idea that you’re passionate about is worth expressing.

  • taking item 2 above and expounding it, i think one reason also that you are afraid is that of the idiots who would think you may have violated some copyright law or such. in any case, what options does an ordinary, mortal blogger can do? we can’t afford expensive lawyers and surely we can’t afford to be out of work.

    hmm, if only there is some kind of a union for bloggers that would help, legally and financially, those who are in trouble with the copyright czars.

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