When trust is everything online, why hide your identity?

building trust onlineSome months back, an author friend of mine was asked by his publisher to contribute to their blog. It was the perfect opportunity, they said, to reach a wider audience, show a different side of himself and open up a debate. The exposure would be invaluable. He said no. It’s not surprising. Writers are often solitary people, and being thrown into a virtual lions’ den can be a terrifying prospect. But that wasn’t what put off my friend. It was the fact that he’d be himself, and the others would be – well who exactly would they be? Jezza55 and supertramp, avidreader07 and im_not_all_there. Anonymous people who could say whatever they liked, and feel not a twinge of regret or remorse.

Catch me if you can

According to Silicon Valley veteran Andrew Keen, the cult of anonymity is to blame for the ‘uncivil world’ of the internet. (You may remember that Keen’s book The Cult of the Amateur ruffled blogger feathers last year by suggesting that much of their discussion was inane and pointless.) “The most corrosive thing of today’s internet is anonymity,” said Keen in an interview. “Much of the most uncivil conversation, much of the unpleasantness of the Internet is carried out by people who won’t reveal who they are.”

I am what I am

So here’s your secret weapon: you. When so much of the content out there hides behind the mask of anonymity, putting your head above the parapet, waving a virtual flag and saying ‘This is me’ sets you apart from the crowd. I often speak to people who desperately want to hide fact that they’re a one-person band. Or a small operation. Why? They want to appear bigger, more corporate, more… faceless? And this, at the very time that big corporates are trying to lose the big-corporate image, and give themselves a human face. Why? Because people want to connect with people. They want to see who you are, where you operate from and maybe even what you (or your people) look like. And then they’ll do business with you. Meanwhile, my author friend is still tussling with his publisher over the blog. His latest message to them said “I’ll show them mine if they show me theirs.” He’s still waiting for a reply. Find out more: