Over the past few weeks, I've run into several acquaintances or clients who I haven't seen in at least a year, and each of those people brought up something they knew about my life or views on recent issues. Each of these opinions was solely informed by my presence on Twitter or NMC's blog/email newsletter. Luckily, none of these views were really misinformed, but it was a real reminder that people out there are paying attention to what you say online.
This post is not meant to scare anyone from sharing online, but those instances were a reminder for me to truly believe what I put out there. Before you send out that tweet where you *hate* a company, person, or something else, make sure that's what you want others to know about you, because you're going to be informing their opinion and this medium could be the only way they're informed about you. If someone was pleasant the one time I met them, but they've been a jerk on Twitter for a full year, the latter will likely inform my opinion more than the former.
There are sensationalized stories out there about how one viral tweet can ruin someone's life, but this idea is more focused on how sustained, non-viral tweets and posts shape perception. They do. Obviously, there's room for humor, hyperbole, etc., and I heartily embrace those techniques, but make sure others understand you're using them or don't make them a core of your persona unless you want them to be.
These interactions haven't really changed how I engage online, but it did make me take pause and note whether I was presenting my true self or my troll self. It's worth doing every now and then.