Q&A: Do I have to have an active online profile?

Question: I have chosen to not get too involved in social media. I prefer to meet people in real life and I don’t want to communicate with them online. Do I have to have an active online profile? It takes a lot of time and I want to stay anonymous. 

Answer: I’ve heard this many times, and no one has to do anything online. You can stay away from it and avoid it. One risk is that new people might be suspicious of who you really are. Your social media profiles are a modern ‘proof of identity’.

We are partly shaping our identity when we are active online. The stories we share are important elements in our lives and when we share photos of friends we are reinforcing our common memories. To do this and being involved also means that we are curious about life, which is a good trait.

I know a person who lives in Beijing, China and he wasn’t allowed to do business with an American company until he had a credible online profile. For them he didn’t ‘look and feel’ as a real person until he created a professional profile online. Being online shows credibility in many ways.

Many recruiters will check out your online profile before they meet you, and if there is very little about you they might think you are a technophobe. Your online CV is a combination of many things that are shared about you online, part of that story can be written by you.

I once met a person who is a theatre director, she is doing an amazing job. When anyone looks at her online profile it looks as if she hasn’t done any interesting productions. She has done some great projects and why not share more about them online.

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Many people are talking about the importance of personal branding, and what you do online is affecting your ‘brand’ on many levels. This can be stressful and comes with responsibility of who you are and what you believe in. It looks to me as people who are clear about their values are more active online and it might be because they know where they stand and what their values are.

If your goal is to stay connected with your friends and the communities your belong to then you I would recommend you to be active online. If you prefer to not do anything in social media that’s okay too. But if you remain outside the social interactions online there is a risk that you are missing out from important communication.