As we’re well aware by now, everything that we post online goes public, where everyone and anyone can see it. This fact generally means that most people end up trying to find a “voice” that they are comfortable with, which can result in people adopting a persona that meets the needs of their content. In some cases, this persona doesn’t necessarily match up with the person they actually are, or rather only shows one side of their personality. This type of persona can be seen in blogs labeled as “educational,” wherein the writer uses an academic and serious tone that would more closely resemble their personality from a professional perspective than say, the way they would act in a social setting. Likewise, personal blogs will often have a more personal, less professional tone.
Recently, in the age of viral videos, we’ve seen a rise of these personas fighting for your attention. Think of them as Jimmy Fallon after he sold his soul— perpetually acting like everything that he sees and hears is the most interesting thing in the world while simultaneously trying to possess the cumulative charisma of the entire planet. You may have come across some of these types— Tai Lopez telling you what’s in his garage, Rick Lax with his cheap tricks and flash cards, or even SoFloAntonio with his stolen content. Recently, since apparently he makes such a great example for everything, you can take Logan Paul for an example. While he’s now moved on from filming dead bodies and transitioned into tasering dead animals, he still has managed to captivate his audience with his persona. Every time Paul has a camera pointed at him, he seems to resonate this energy and intensity that would be impossible for most people to maintain for even 5 minutes. Yet Paul has done this every day for over a year, and this is where his major problem stems from.
You can make the argument that Logan Paul actually doesn’t have a persona, and that he’s just a sociopath who was never told no, but I like to believe that deep down, he is a real person. Where he has found himself in trouble is in adopting that persona every single day. At a certain point, when you maintain a persona that is in any way fake for so long, you eventually cease to be the person you used to be, and start to become that persona. This is what I believe has happened to Logan. He has essentially reached this point where he doesn’t know how to act in such a way that won’t work in the context of his videos anymore, because he simply wants to turn everything into content. When that becomes your main objective in life, you start to forget about unwritten rules like “don’t film dead bodies” and “don’t tase dead animals for your 12 year old fans.” The same persona that has made Paul as successful as he is has also brought about his fall from grace.
While that example presents a very extreme case of what can happen in being disingenuous in your work, it still provides something to think about as you try to find your voice. This idea is well illustrated in danah boyd’s talk at Web 2.0 expo, that Dani also talks about. Your words matter more than you think, and are able to both build people up and tear people down. When what you are typing carries significant weight, it’s hard to justify those words coming from a persona, rather than from a genuine person. What you may end with being faced with is people trusting in that persona as the true you, wherein you become almost obligated to continue with that persona in order to maintain their trust. What’s important to think about is just how far to carry that voice so that it doesn’t get away from you. On the internet, everything you say is permanent.