How to Defend Your Image Online
If I had to express my thoughts on this in one pithy saying it’d be this: Be yourself; don’t be a jerk. This strategy keeps most people’s online images at least tolerably clean at least most of the time. In fact, you might not even think of your online self as an image. But for most people, there’s at least some difference between the way you live your life and the way you portray yourself online. For some people this difference is vast. So what do your online image goes wrong? How can you rehabilitate it? There are several strategies, but these are the ones I’ve seen work the best.
- Be Vulnerable. If things go wrong, be honest. It’s getting harder and harder to be anything but brutally honest in the things you say online. If people try hard enough, they can see through an image or catch you in a lie. But sometimes, for relational or political reasons, not everybody has the luxury of always saying what they think on any matter. So if you things go wrong for your image, it might be time to think about adjusting the image. There are plenty of pre-internet celebrities who have found a new home on the internet. Think about George Takei. Who but the biggest Trekkie would have known he was so funny. Despite its digital environs, the internet is still inherently social. As in life, people will tend to like you more if you be yourself. You might just buy yourself a longer career doing it.
- Withdraw. If that won’t work for you and your career/family/religion/politics/whatever, then it’s best that you not spend a whole lot of time online. Be very judicious about how you present yourself in social media situations, if you speak at all. Seriously consider cancelling Facebook and Twitter. Don’t argue or really even say much of anything. There are plenty of people who do this, simply because that’s what they enjoy, with no particular reputation to defend. But what happens if people say bad things about you online when you aren’t even using it?
- Hire the Pros. Profile Defenders tips on defending your image online are really helpful. Teams like this can scrub your reputation as clean as a whistle in no time. They do this by going to problem areas online and speaking in your favour, or disseminating the truth when people are saying ill-founded slander. They can help you generate better reviews and basically make the e-conversation a lot more favourable to you.
If you have a hard time regulating your reputation online, you’ll have to use one, or some combination of, these strategies. It’s sometimes hard to keep your reputation in check, but it’s not impossible. Here I’ll go back to my first piece of advice: be yourself and don’t be a jerk. If you can manage this, you won’t have that many reputation fires to put out. But if things go bad, just use methods 1-3 and you should get things back on track fast. Internet image is fickle. Make the most of yours and enjoy your time online.