The Digital Self Vs the Real World Self


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digital life vs real life

Growing up in the early days of the internet was bizarre to say the least, as I think any millennial would admit.

I’m talking early early internet, here.

As in — the internet before even pre-YouTube viral sensations like Strong Bad or that weirdly catchy “Badger Badger Badger” song peppered the digital airwaves.

Oh yes, people. I’m talking about the World Wide Web.

It was, in some ways, a more wholesome place (I remember my “AOL Kids” account that locked me out of all general surfing with brightly colored warnings that reminded me of Nickelodeon shows)…

… But it also included a seedier, unregulated forum of — DUN DUN DUNNNN — chat rooms, where the greeting of choice was “A/S/L?”

(For the uninitiated, that stands for age/sex/location, a.k.a. how old are you, what’s your gender, and where are you?)

Yeah…That Did NOT Age Well

At lunch, a small gaggle of my 7th grade girlfriends and I would gather in a u-shape around a school computer, and hop on Internet Explorer to see who we could chat to.

And, almost every time, we were crossing fingers that “who we could chat to” was… a cute boy.

(In reality, it’s likely none of them were “a cute boy” back in those days.

DEEEEEEEEP INNER CRINGE.

Anyway!)

Fortunately or unfortunately, just a few short months into our chat room adventures, every student in my middle school filed into the gym for a surprise assembly all about… internet safety.

We’d have a few over the years, and every time the overall messages were these:

  • Never use your real name as your screen name.
  • No one you meet on the internet is real — and even if someone pretends to be your internet boyfriend, even if you stay up ‘til 5 AM chatting, you don’t actually know that person.
  • And if someone on the internet IS real, they’re probably coming to throw you in a van and murder you

OH, HOW TIMES CHANGE.

Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

Now, not only do we know for a fact not everyone on the internet is coming to murder us, we also get into the back of internet strangers’ vans and pay them money to take us places!

I don’t think any of us could have imagined what the internet would one day become, let alone be able to visualize the forthcoming Wild West of the 2020’s digital marketing industry.

However, in many ways, the second slice of middle school assembly internet safety wisdom remains true: not everyone you meet on the internet is “real”.

But not in the sense of me pretending to be 16 when I was actually 14 (ahem).

Rather, in the sense that our online selves are a precisely curated version of how we want the world to see us, and THAT gives us full freedom to control and transform into anything we like.

At this juncture, I think it’s fair to say that everyone who spends a lot of time online now has two selves:

Our “real world” selves (the one that has arms to hug her friends and has to eat and sleep and brush her hair and scoop her cats’ poop) —

— And our “digital selves” (the one who gets to share sharp-tongued snippets on Twitter and chit chat about various aspects about life and business with a sparkle filter on her IG stories and can, for all intents and purposes, curate an aura of COOL).

Catfishing Ourselves

Our “real world” selves fumble and fart and faff about, most of the time.

But our “digital selves”? They’re one long presentation of our best selves 24/7 in images, text, and clips.

Our flyest selfies, our wittiest ideas, our biggest vacation flexes can all serve to offer up an interpretation of us that exactly no one would recognize if they ran into us wearing sweats and glasses at the grocery store.

Which is probably why there’s a whole portion of the population who now appears to be “better on the internet”, and an entire cottage industry of filters and instant-photoshop tools have cropped up to turn up the heat on that charade.

… So is it any wonder that some of us might even begin to prefer the online versions of ourselves?

(Especially if our digital self is technically the money-maker.)

Yeah, it makes sense.

Always Two Sides to Every S(elf)

But there’s a problem:

Particularly in the age of “cancel culture” the digital self has been revealed to be incredibly fragile.

It’s easy to feel like one well-placed think piece, or one collage of our ~problematic tweets~ can kick off a mob harassment campaign that immediately torpedos everything we’ve built… because in some ways?

In Internet Land, that’s entirely true.

So if we ignore our unsexy, vaguely-less-interesting “real world” selves, and stop nourishing our IRL relationships, quirks, and day-to-day average experiences that ground us, and make us who we are?

If for any reason our digital self begins to crumble… we’re in for a World Wide Web of hurt.

Which is why we wanted to spend some time talking about this phenomenon on the latest (and perhaps my favorite ever) episode of HAMYAW:

The Digital Self vs. The Real Self.

Which Self Will You Feed?

Especially in the pandemic, online life has been not just a source of revenue for business owners, but a source of connection, community, and camaraderie.

Which has also made it possible, particularly now, for one’s internet life to be so busy, to feel so rich and full of possibility from our living room couches, that we begin to neglect our real lives.

It is also possible for us to begin to value our digital self over our real selves — as we might perceive our digital selves to hold more power and prestige.

So the question becomes: what happens then?

So click to join Margo and me gettin’ real about the real vs. digital self, and digging into stuff like:

  • Whether your IRL friends know you have an email list? (4:37)
  • How we turn to our digital life when our real life sucks and we need a dopamine hit
  • Do your online friends count as “real” friends?
  • Why it sometimes feels like your audience knows you SO WELL, but also doesn’t know you at all? (6:57)
  • If you have a hot take in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make an impact? (1:33)
  • What happens when you’re sucked into online drama, but then you put your phone down? (13:14)
  • Getting sucked into “performing” online (14:16)
  • Why are we still on our phones when we have friends over?

Tell Us How You Really Feel!

Walk your lovely digital/real self over there and click here to catch it now — and let us know in the comments:

Do you feel this pull in either direction?

Was there a time you prioritized your “digital self” more?

And what happened next?

Enjoy, and we’d love to know what you REAL(ly) think.

See ya in a sec.

Write on,
H

Episode Transcript

Okay, hello.

Hello, Margot.

Are you there?

As women. (laughing)

I’ve had it with you. (upbeat music)

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world.

It’s time for another episode of HAMYAW. And on this day, we wanna talk about the experience of having both a real life and a digital life. In moments in your existence as a human being,where sometimes it feels like your digital life can outweigh your real one. It’s kind of a funny feeling because I think subconsciously a lot of us have the one-liner in our head, but social media isn’t real life.

But sometimes it kinda is, it kinda is, and it impacts your real life. And there’s the other side of the coin, of course, that’s along that internet is not real life. That’s saying, “you know, oh, you’re getting cyberbullied?” I think that’s a tweet by Tyler, The Creator, where it’s like, “you’re getting cyberbullied?” 

Turn your phone off.

Hahahahahaha.

And of course it’s not that simple. So we wanna talk about this divide between our lives. Which should you value more? It’s your real life. Which should you value more? How do we go about doing that? But how do we strike the balance that we kind of all exist now in these two universes? But before I say another word, Margo, do you exist in two universes?

If you didn’t say it on Twitter, did it even happen?

No, it did not.

If you have a hot take in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, did it make an impact? No, it didn’t, the answer is no.

No it didn’t, it didn’t. (laughing)

Physically impossible, so yeah.

It possibly didn’t.

No, it’s such a good question ’cause I always feel like when I am in my real life with real humans, not that, and it’s a weird thing to say ’cause it’s not like I met you online, you’re not, not real, but when I’m interacting with human beings physically in front of me and I don’t post about it, a part of me always feels like I’m hiding from my audience.

Like, should they know I went to dinner? Do they know I went to this party? Did they even know I had a good time? Do they know I like this book? And then, like, you feel like you have a secret identity. It’s not a secret. Like there shouldn’t be inconsistencies really. But for me it got really exhausting. It’s like constantly announcing things about yourself.

And I should say this to the show like in the moment I’m on a social pause, so we can talk about that as well, but —

It must be nice.

(laughing)

It is but I’m in like tremendous FOMO, but like, again, turn off your phone. So no, but to answer your question, like it is a weird feeling when you have that pull of digital where I’m kind of like, “oh, I do wanna tell people I did this.” I wanna invite them into my life. And there’s a part of it that’s beautiful. And it feels like let down almost.

Yeah

It’s weird. It’s weird because at the same time you can be thriving in one domain and not another, and they don’t touch each other.

Yeah, oh yeah, 100%. Also what is particularly, it’s always marked to me if I’m getting sucked into social media drama, whether it’s happening to me or whether it’s happening to somebody else, I’m like, I was like in my phone, I’m, like, full body anxious, and I’m, like, scrolling all these things. And then I look around and like what’s actually happening in my life in that moment. My husband is sitting next to me on the couch reading a book or like we’re watching television. My cats are licking themselves. And we’re just kind of chilling.

Yeah. 

And so sometimes I’m like, okay, I’m gonna put my phone in the other room because this is not where I need to be. An influencer recently made the assertion about valuing your digital self more than your real self. And I thought that was so interesting. And I think that’s a question we all have to ask ourselves. Because this is like should people know I went to dinner? Like should they know I like this book? Like I want people to know.

Because I think that our love of social media, like algorithms, Mark Zuckerberg, fuckery be damned, the thing that I think so many of us enjoy about social media is the validation, is the connection, is that sense of community.

Yeah. 

You know. But it’s very easy to mistake that hyperactive, like, soundbites kind of knowing someone community online and totally neglect your real life ’cause it’s so easy to get sucked in. And it actually like it’s built to suck you in.

Totally, totally. And it’s also that difference between, like when you feel that faux feeling of you knowing someone.It’s also a strange thing because I do feel like not just social media, but my emails, and my writing that exists online, like people do know me through those things, and that connection is real, like that is part of me. And that’s also a part of me that I’ve been called out on by my real life friends, who I remember friends being like, “I didn’t know you had an internet talk show. I didn’t know you had an email list. What is this life you have?”

And I was like, “oh, that’s true.” I never like, you don’t know, (laughing)

Yeah, people don’t know.

You have no idea. And it’s not because I didn’t want to tell them. It’s because it never came up. I’m not gonna just be like, “Oh do you wanna hear the latest online business drama? This course dropped. It was not good. It’s juicy though.”

(laughing)

And like, they don’t care. They’re like in law and medicine, like they don’t care.

Doing the real shit out there on these streets, yeah.

Actually saving lives. So, but it was weird. I had a friend actually sit me down being like, “I wanna know what you’re doing.”

And I was like, “Okay, well I have an internet talk show.”

And she’s like, “That is awesome. Can I watch it?”

And I was like, “Yes, (laughing) do you have YouTube?”

And she was like, “I know what that is.”

You know, it’s like, it was just, it was sweet. It was so sweet. You forget there are like other people that live in other ways. And like some ways I do feel like they don’t totally know me if they don’t know this side. Not that it’s different, like I’m not that different. But you know what I mean?

God, I love that you raised that point because sometimes I’m like uncomfortable if people from my real life, like, watched the show.

Yes.

Or like, one of my buddies replied to an email of mine recently. And I was like “what the fuck are you doing on my email list? Go away.” Don’t look at me, like, don’t look at me like this. I have nothing to be ashamed of. And I’m super proud of my business and everything that I’ve built. But yeah, do my friends, not really in real life, a lot of them not really fully understand what I do?

Yep.

Because it’s hard to explain and requires a lot of context. There is another piece of this that I think is important to remember too, because like your online self is certainly you. But I think about this in the sense of like, and this is probably a really bad comparison, but — 

Good set up!

In like the early days of the internet when we were in middle school and high school, and you would like meet boys on like AIM or meet them on like group chat. Start talking to them on Live Journal or like the group chats or whatever.

Yeah, yeah. 

Chat rooms.

And we were all catfished.

You feel in like emails, yeah, right, it’s “ugh, stop talking about that part, a/s/l.” In those moments, like feeling, like talking to these people for a year or two years at a time, you know, and then meeting them in person or like learning something about them, and realizing that you don’t really, like, know the full scope of them. You don’t know if they’re messy, you don’t know the way they treat wait staff. Like you don’t know how they interact with the world around them really. Like what they’re like in real life is often, like there’s obviously that huge contextual missing because you can curate how you are online as well. I’m just awful. Never meet me in person, that’s what I’m trying to say.

(laughing)

But no, but it’s a really good point. Like, I feel like it’s like dating where you’re not inauthentic on a date, but you’re not farting, you know? Or you’re not, you’re (chuckles)

Says you.

Or if you are, you’re blaming it on everyone else, 

You haven’t been on a date with me.

Like, you’re like, the person doesn’t really know. They don’t know your bowel movement schedules.

Yes.

They don’t know what foods you don’t like. They don’t know what it’s like when like your mom said that thing and now you’re in a mood and like, how are you at dinner now? You’re putting on your best self with boundaries. And so like, I think internet relationships are like it. But I have to tell you a funny story. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this. 

So Sarah and I were friends online but thought we were friends in real life because we like literally voxed and talked on the phone like every day.

Yeah.

One day we were like, “let’s get together.” So we get together, and she calls me up, she’s like, “Listen.”

It was, like, very dramatic too. She goes, “I’m very tall.” (laughing)

Oh my God.

And I was like when she’s like, 

That’s such, it’s big Sarah Peck energy. We’ve gotta have her on the show. Continue. 

I know it was so great. And I was like, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that.” Like, she was like, “Yeah, it might be like a little off-putting like people don’t realize.”

And I was like, “Well, I’m very little.” (laughing)

She’s like, I’m extremely small.

It’s really funny.

And it was funny ’cause it’s one of those things like, it doesn’t change your relationship, but it is something like, it never occurred to me that like, she’s my tall friend, you know, 

and I’m her short friend.

And I remember Margo meeting you too for the first time and we had been like internet friends, and then meeting you at the first Copywriter COB Conference. I remember I saw you and you were working on your laptop. I was like, “Hi”. And we like hugged and whatever, we were both like working. And you were like, “Can I braid my hair in your room?” And I was like, “I don’t have a room, but if I did absolutely.” And she was like, “Oh man, I was just sitting here and I was like, “I know we don’t really know each other that well, but I feel like I was like, oh, it’s fine, I can just do my hair at Hillary’s”.

So I’m like “hope that’s okay.” 

And I was like, “Yes, that is.” 

No boundaries!

Who needs a boundary? Bring it on. But I think, what we wanna clarify here is there is of course the genuine connection happening in the digital space. But I want to dig in for a moment because a practice that I’m really trying to apply is valuing my real life self perhaps more than my digital self. Like I’m proud of the digital self that I’ve built, very proud of the business I’ve built, and the reputation that I have, and the results I get from my clients, and the work that I do.

Like very proud of all that.

But there’s also a whole other universe of me over here that I miss that when I’m getting sucked into the digital space, and like a husband. You know I have one of those.

So, I wanted to ask you about what that missing feels like, like is it like you’re not present? Or what is it, what does it feel like?

Oh yeah. It’s a huge lack of presence.Like I will be curled up on the couch around my phone, like worrying about something or other and talking about something or other, gossiping, you know, and I’m realizing that my husband’s sitting there waiting for me to like, say hello, you know. Or my cats wanna be pet and played with, and it’s a beautiful day outside and like let’s go for a walk. I’m missing my life in a lot of ways. And it’s something I continue to work on. My sister needles me on it when I see her ’cause family’s like that.

She’s like, “What are you doing? You’re not working, are you? Put the phone down.”

And I’m just like, “Argh, fine I hate you when you’re right.”

I was with my family over the weekend too. And I remember I’m trying to be better about like putting my phone away, and putting my phone down at the end of the day, like this stuff, the things that we say, and the conflicts and drama that we see, like they can be interesting and compelling, but like ultimately we go to bed every night like in our actual homes, and we have our actual friends around us too, you know. And I think we’re just so, especially with like the way the internet is right now, no one wants to get canceled, no one wants to get in trouble. No one wants to get, like, be seen as something or other. But also what’s been interesting to me is thinking about like, should that happen, if you are not solid in your real life and if you don’t have your support systems, it will totally obliterate you.

Yes.

You know. And that’s a really important point  that I think we miss too. Like if we value the digital self more than the IRL self, and the digital self is for all intents and purposes so fragile, you know. If we don’t cultivate the real, anything that happens in this digital world has the power to just totally incinerate our sense of self and who we know ourselves to be. And I think that’s something that, I wouldn’t say it’s like something I live in fear of, but I think that’s the reality that we’re looking at.

I think we cannot underscore enough how important it is to have a foundation of real people around you, #FreeBritney.

(laughing)

Like that’s–

Free Brtitney!

But like that’s how it happens though. I mean, how many more tell-alls do we need to read of people who have this perfectly curated outside self because they listened to execs or whatever, they played the game. They didn’t foster relationships.They didn’t have a good partner. They didn’t have parents that believed in them or they just didn’t feed those types of intimate connections which require work, like they really do.

Yeah.

And I think that’s the other thing like these things aren’t easy. And I believe there’s a place where both worlds can support each other.

Absolutely, yep.

But I think we should have our feet really firmly planted in the real world to

inform the digital world. I think when it starts being the opposite, it’s really dangerous.

Yeah.

That’s a place that’s really easy for me to get sucked into. So I would ask Ms. Margo Aaron, how is your social media break going? Like thinking about what we’re talking about here? Like, do you feel like it’s brought you closer to your real life? I know you have FOMO about missing the digital world, but talk to me about that.

Yes and, because we’re still in a pandemic as of filming this so a lot of my relationships 

still demand the phone. Like I’m not broadcasting in the same way so that weight is lifted, but, like, still the majority of my friendships right now are maintained on text. So I’m doing the same thing you’re doing. And I feel two conflicting realities where I’ll be in the middle of a conversation and my husband will come home or my daughter will want my attention, and I’ll miss the cues because I don’t wanna offend the friend who we’re, you know, deep, deep in something heavy. And so like trying to balance those two it’s a special kind of difficult.

But one, it’s made me a better communicator because I can set a foundation where a lot of my friends know if I ghost all of a sudden in the middle of something important, they know it’s ’cause kid.

(laughing)

Like it’s not you.

It’s not you, like, you know.

But some people like, they like drama. And so I don’t wanna (chuckles) that can end up being like, “Hey, I’m sorry, why did you just ghost on me?” And I’m like, hmm, okay, well I’m not, that’s a different thing.

But no, to your point on the social thing, I’ll tell you what. I would say the biggest benefit for me personally has been that I get very sucked into being reactive, and so if I feel like there’s a hot take that I like have to respond to, and there’s this like social norm or expectation that within my digital bubble I need to comment on something or I need to be the spokesperson for something that I don’t feel qualified to talk about, or that I don’t wanna touch, I feel now that I can actually go deeper on things and think about them, and actually write them out.

Like, we’ll use the benign example. But even when it’s something marketing related, you know how a launch went for someone, and everyone’s talking shit about this person or what should you…Is email dead? Is blogging dead? Like I don’t wanna put out a public statement in reaction to that. I wanna sit and think about it. And I wanna write something. Like, I’ll practice with my email list, like, because we have that rapport where I can be like, “Here’s some things I’m chewing on, what do you think?”

But it’s long form. I can contradict myself and I can change my mind. Like, that format works for me better. I really don’t like the polarizing effect of social media where I have to be a fully developed person because I don’t feel like one. 

And I also, I get sucked into performance everything. So if people are like, “I’m reading this book,” I’m like “I’m reading this book, look at all my notes on this book”. And like, it’s just not good for my personality because I’m such a people pleaser and I’m so insecure. So like, okay, that’s half tongue-in-cheek, but like we’re all a little insecure. And a part of me, it feeds that part of me that wants to be liked.

And so that’s where it gets dangerous, is that not having the likes is so nice, because now I can send an email and I don’t actually know how it performed beyond like open rates, like that’s my proxy metric. But like, likes fucking slaughter me if I’m having a bad day, which is crazy.

Yeah

Like even with a content calendar, I will still like if I’m having a bad day, it’s like a cheat. It’s like my drugs where I could be like, well, I’ll just get a dopamine hit real quick right here.

(mimics eating) BRB.

(laughing)

Like me, they like me.

And then it’s like, well now I’m no longer being true to my values because now I just wanna be a whore to the likes. So like, I know I’m susceptible to that is what I’m saying.

Oh, same.

So it’s been helpful to me to not have it.

I was thinking about that too. Like real life versus digital self. I was like, there are times where there is conflict in my real life and I’ll be like I’m gonna go to Instagram because people like me there. People think I’m cool, whatever, hmph.

And so I go on Instagram and I, like, share a meme and people are like, “you’re so funny.”

And I’m like, “thank you for validating me”.

This is two-part for me. I think that one, we need to learn how to give each other grace when we’re like, not online, you know, like, and not available. Like the expectation is that we are just all available at all times for everything. And sometimes we’re just gonna miss stuff because we wanna be there for our real life. And if we don’t begrudge it of ourselves, we cannot begrudge it of other people.

And I think this is also like, you know, if you need something from somebody, you will leave something for them to see or find and they don’t do it, you know, that’s where things can kind of get complicated. And I think that we need to realize that like all of us are whole people. ‘Cause I think that’s what I forget in the digital space too. ‘Cause sometimes like these influencers, these faces become caricatures of themselves.

Yeah.

And you’re like, well, this person thinks this and this is their values. And then you meet them in person. And you’re like, oh, (laughing) that was fairly innocuous. Same thing on the opposite side where it’s like this person’s my hero. They’re so amazing. I can’t wait to meet them. And then, oh, that was fairly innocuous, like that was fairly benign.

This is why I love that (indistinct) video on canceling as well. Because there’s one part of it that always sticks out to me, which is just basically talking about people who assume she’s trans herself and people assume she hates non-binary people. And she’s just sitting there reading out like problematic tweets of herself, and being like this is what happened here, like I own this one, this one just wasn’t great. And then she’s just like, “assuming that I hate non-binary people”, and she just goes “just no”.

No, no, no.

Like that is not true.

You know, what? I think that the digital self is, again, a curated self, it’s us trying to put our best faces forward, but it could be transformed into something else with other peoples’, like, ideas being impressed upon us about who we are and how we move through the world. And I think that your sense of self has to be so strong. So if you’re not cultivating that real self, that real relationship, that real support network. You know when I say real, I’m not like “only your friends you can see in person, are your friends”.

No.

But like people who know you, who’ve seen you through a lot of stuff, who shared experiences with you, who know who you are, who’ve seen you up and down.

Like you gotta compartmentalize. I mean, this was true before the internet, that like, not all your friends do all the same things. So like, you know, you have friends you talk to about what you’re wearing. You have friends you talk to you about intellectual stuff. You have friends who talk to you about your career. Very few people go into all the categories. And like if you have those people keep them, that’s amazing. 

But like, I think social in particular, but also digital in general, those conversations are compartmentalized. Like they live in one specific sect of the internet. And thinking too of the different channels. Like I remember thinking there was one account on Insta, I was following that I was like, oh, she’s really funny. Why doesn’t she have more followers? 

Then I saw like she’s super famous on Tik Tok. And I’m like, oh, it’s so funny how you can be irrelevant in one space and like in another, and we make these assumptions about who you are as a result of this.

So, I mean, I think you have to go in knowing that these things happen, eyes open. And then sometimes we have to find out for yourself what your boundaries are. Okay, here’s where it gets even more blurry though because we say digital life is not real life, but it impacts it.

Yeah, it is.

So, like, I’m not gonna lie that, you know, if I am louder on Insta, I get more sales. These things are related. So the first time this was awesome that I was at a party and someone came up to me and was like, “Are you Margo from HAMYAW?”

(laughing)

She texted me immediately after by the way. She was like, “I got recognized.” I was like (screaming)

I have no cool. I was like, “Yes I am. What would you like me to sign?” (laughing) and the best part–

That’s exactly how I would have responded.

The best part was that everyone around them didn’t know what it was. So they’re like, “Who is this woman? Like, who are you? What is HAMYAW?”

And I was like, God, I don’t want them to see we only have a couple hundred, like, views per episode. It’s a underground, popular internet talk show. (indistinct) I put it on with my friend. (indistinct)

There we go.

And then I’m trying to be falsely humble ’cause I’m like please don’t Google it, please don’t Google me. But it’s funny because that cache does impact the brand, right? How I exist online then influenced the real world.

I liked the way Laura Belgray put it at one point like years ago. She was like, “It is cool to be a little famous at a very, very tiny corner of the internet.” 

It is cool, like it’s good feelings. I’m gonna be flat out with y’all about that. Like everyone wants to be validated, everyone wants to be seen, but where it gets messy is when you’re like I am this person upon this pedestal, surely now that someone has finally seen me, I am here, you know.

And what we talk about all the time is it’s just like, it’s cool to have people respond and have people, like, like what we do because at the end of the day, like I’m sitting in my bedroom at my vanity, like with a microphone, like, and my husband’s in the other room doing, like my two cats don’t give a shit that I have an internet talk show or how many people are on my email list. I’m not even gonna say “it keeps me grounded” because I’m not like so full of myself. But again like this comes back to that, well, my real life kind of sucks. So I’m gonna to Instagram where people like me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And it’s true. I’m being super vulnerable right now, you guys, with sharing this with y’all. But as we move through life and as, you know, for those listening, like, as you build and grow, if that’s what you want, of course, like if you want a personal brand that people follow, like it’s really easy to fall into the trap. And I’ve seen it rack people where the opinion of people on the internet becomes their identity.

Yeah.

Then you’re not grounded in anything because you cannot control other people’s opinions of you.

You just can’t. Period.

And I think this is the catch 22 of marketing because we are from this world where the Kool-Aid is or like the mantra is you can control outcomes, right.

Yeah.

You do these things, you write the copy the right way. You launch it at the right time. You follow my template. You take my course. You go to my webinar, you do the things, and you get this outcome and it’s predictable.

Implied there is that you can control your perception. You can control what people think. You can make them buy, right? And like, that’s just not fucking true.

That is a maybe. 

Sorry. 

Can not.

I’m (laughing) over.

Let’s break it down though. 

Yeah.

Because having a strategy to deliver what people need to them and then being loud about telling them, and also telling them in a way that they can connect to and you can bring them with you is a skill.

It’s a skill and it works. But you’re not duping people. You’re curating yourself, but you’re not presenting yourself to be something you’re not. I think there’s a line here between purposely curating, right? Like, you know me in a certain way online because that’s what I have told you. But, what you see about me, like what you reflect based on what I’ve shared, that’s on you.

Like some people might be like, “Margot is a huge douche”. She’s super insecure. Or someone might be like 

You’re my huge douche. 

Thank you.

But I’m just saying like a lot of what people get from what I put out is them, right. So like, if it resonates with them then you’re my people. If it doesn’t resonate with you then you’re not my people. And it’s not a failure of my curation. That is the point.

So this is true with copy. This is true with all marketing. It has a bifurcating effect. 

Ooh.

So if everyone likes you, then it’s not working because you’re just being like bland.

Gotta polarize, baby.

I don’t like the word because it sounds like we’re talking about like politics and we’re like combative, but you’re right. So like bifurcating in the sense of like, if I sell hats and you don’t want hats then you’re not interested. But that’s not because of me personally ’cause you don’t want hats, if you’re not interested in internet marketing, like most of my real life friends, then this channel is not for you, right?

Like this is not something you’d be interested in. And it’s not a personal reflection of us. So I think that’s part of why you need like a solid core. But you also need to know that, like, what someone sees about your show, like my mom is like tries to watch the show and she’s like, “I don’t get it”. 

And I’m like, ’cause it’s not for you. 

It’s not for you.

But is that a failure of like, did we not do a good job? Like, no. 

No.

So I think knowing what you can control and where that limit is, and then after that, 

like you gotta be in integrity. You gotta be putting the stuff out. You gotta have your good boundaries. But like then what people take away from that, it’s usually on them. I mean, it’s always on them, it’s always on them.

What did Paul (indistinct) say about like people purposely misinterpret being like the biggest, weirdest flex.

(laughing)

Yeah.

It’s weird.

The overvaluing of the digital self soon is what makes us dig so anxious around. And I did a tweet about this, like yesterday. So I’m gonna pimp my own tweet here. 

This pretend conversation like, “Hey, those are a lot of books. Whatchu doing?”

And I’m like, “Well, thank you. Like, I’m really trying hard to be perfectly inclusive and anti-racist, and take care of my client’s mental health very carefully. And also I wanna cultivate a warm, witty persona while also not cultivating co-dependency between myself and my audience, because they need to know that they cannot count on me for these things. And I can’t encourage parasocial relationships.”

And they’re like, “Oh cool, are you a professor?”

And I’m like, “No, I work in digital marketing. I’m just trying to send an email”.

Like that’s how it feels in the online space sometimes when we think about this, like, curation of the digital self. It creates this like perfectionist checklist because we also feel like we can’t make mistakes. You know, we’re gonna make them. So at the end of the day do the work, obviously, like, it’s important and I study this stuff, and I was joking about it. Because it is sometimes like you think about this and other professions being the expectation or even in other corners of the industry. And it’s like, whew, it’s a lot.

But at the same time, you know, it’s part of, we want to be conscious and it’s part of living our values. So that’s all one thing. But again what we’re doing to improve it doesn’t make us who we are.

Yeah. So here’s a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up because if you do the work and you don’t tell anyone, did you do it? I think that actually you’re probably doing more work because usually if you’ve done the work…

Let’s think about personal growth and happiness. 

Someone who is happy, doesn’t walk around being like, “Let me show you the five

ways in which I am happy. Here are the things that make me happy. Here’s why I’m happy. You are not happy.Here’s why so-and-so is not happy.”

That’s not…

Yeah.

Fulfilled, happy, satisfied people sound like, an actual satisfied person is simply living their life satisfied and happy and doesn’t need to make a stink about it. So I think, like, that’s why knowing who you are in your core is such an important part about this and why you have to have good boundaries. My digital self is part of me, who you guys know from watching this show, like that is a part of me, in the same way that reading my emails is and in the same way that watching us on Instagram is like, those are all still parts of me, but they’re not all of me.

There is a pause moment before you hit send on something which makes it inherently different than if you’re having a conversation with me where I can’t fucking filter. 

Even this, we might edit this. You don’t know. Of course, you know, you see the cut clips.

It’s edited, y’all.

It’s edited. I have makeup on. So, like,

Me too.

It’s not that it’s insincere. It’s not that it’s actually me. It’s that it’s one facet and we are all multifaceted humans. And I think if you don’t have your hand firmly planted on the ground, you’re gonna lose yourself. You’re gonna lose your sense of reality, basically in Wandavision.

Which is a great show. Marvel is slaying right now, like, Oh my God. Anyway, we’ll do a whole episode on “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” because Marvel’s killing it.

Oh, I didn’t see that yet.

Oh, it’s so good. Anyway, shall we bring it on home, my dear.

Awesome. All right, we want to hear from y’all. Tell us, where is that tension between your digital self and your real self? Do they feel in conflict? Are they perfectly in sync? How do they connect with each other? How do they conflict? How do you manage it? When have you drunk your own Kool-Aid or is that just us?

Tell us everything in the comments below.

And as always, if you liked this episode, please like it below, subscribe to our channel, and share it with your friends.

I am Margo Aaron.

And I’m Hillary Weiss.

This has been HAMYAW, and we will see you in two weeks.

Bye for now, y’all.

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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