Sometimes the greatest wisdom comes from that which is the longest lived. Sixteenth century Priest, St. Vincent de Paul, described the nature of the stories we tell thusly: Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying. His fairly stark and binary contrast brings forward an interesting supposition. As we are increasingly identified by our persona online, how do we remain humble and still meet the expectations of the world-wide-web?
Webinars, meetings and colloquia dedicated to putting our best electronic foot forward have become ubiquitous in our inboxes. We are told that social media is an imperative to success in business – and perhaps in life. Moreover, we must carefully curate our web presence to honestly portray ourselves – but do it in a way likely to put us in the MOST positive light. Some of us clearly take the messaging to an extreme. Photos slide from optimistic to intentionally deceitful. But, who determines what’s gone too far?
As communities are redefined, our traditional methods of vetting affiliates are proving inadequate. Where we formerly relied upon personal recommendations, we now turn to unknown and often unidentified web-writers to direct our decision-making. A lifetime of civic involvement and network building can be supplanted by an effective and well-designed web presence. Surely, it begins to equalize access. Yet, it also brings considerable peril.
People can completely manufacture themselves on the web. Likewise, we can anonymously destroy the lives of those with whom we have some real or imagined beef. Do humility, truth, pride, and dishonesty assume completely different meanings in a digital age; or, do they carry the same standards applied in a much broader way? How do we manage to honestly advance our message above the noise of a medium which delivers lies and truth with equal speed and abundance?