The other day I was catching up on my LinkedIn connection requests, and finally got them down to zero. I accepted some, ignored a bunch and, after doing so, asked a question on Facebook:

Facebook question on accepting LinkedIn invitations

There were a range of answers, and the conversation continued for a couple of days; those answers themselves are worthy of their own, dedicated blog post.

But one answer in particular made me look twice:

answer on LinkedIn invitations

I’ve obscured the person’s name and avatar for reasons you will understand shortly. When I saw this, I asked in response, “Are you serious?”

To which the person replied:

clarification on LinkedIn question

To which I replied:

response to LinkedIn clarification

The person in question obviously did not expect this response, so tried to backpedal a bit, saying how many Indian friends and “candidates” he has. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was done. That was also the case for many of my friends and colleagues as well, several of whom sent me private messages on Facebook, tweets or emails to express their disgust at this line of thinking… and not only that, the person’s lame (in my opinion) attempts to justify and stand by it.

As free as we want to be

The other day, Geoff Livingston wrote a terrific post about how we are all as free as we want to be. And today, on the heels of the US’ Independence Day, I can’t but help think about how social media helped to free this person from the foil of a civilized, forward-thinking, large-minded human being and show him for what he is: a bigot at the least, and possibly a racist. And that too, probably when he least expected to be exposed as such.

People often ask me how to manage their personal and professional personas online, and I always have the same answer: just be yourself. I honestly don’t know how to portray one persona while being someone partially or completely different. Frankly, I don’t think that does you any good in the long run anyway; sooner or later people are bound see the face behind the mask… as happened here.

So let’s all do ourselves a favor, cut the BS and just be who we are, online and offline. That way the people we are most suited to connect with will come our way, the work opportunities we are most suited to do will present themselves, and we’ll be free of trying to be something we’re not. Which is simply a much easier way to live.

Why bother living any other way?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke