In a recent article from The New York Times, author and New York Times contributor Peggy Orenstein reflected on the world today, which operates very much under what she calls a new version of a famous quote, “I tweet, therefore I am.”

Peggy, who admits she has become a Twitter-addict only recently, writes:

“I am trying to gain some perspective on the perpetual performer’s self-consciousness.  That involves trying to sort out the line between person and persona, the public and private self.”

The point she is trying to make is one that previous generations didn’t have to think about.  With the social web at our fingertips and the lines of communication more accessible than ever, where is the line between private and public when it comes to individual’s lives.  We use Twitter, Facebook, and tools of the social web to interact with global audiences, but are we truly putting ourselves out there or crafting ‘versions’ of ourselves for that audience?

Peggy’s thoughts support my belief, and the belief of many marketers and branding professionals, that the social web enables us to create personal brands.  Those personal brands might not be exact replicas of your personal life, but depending on your goals and reasons for participating on the social web, your online persona might need to be quite different from your personal self.

Each person publishes content on the social web for his or her own reasons.  That’s one of the things that makes the social web so open.  People have more access to information than ever and the world will never be the same.  There is something for everyone, and therefore, the social web clutters the Internet making it more difficult to find the content that is meaningful to you.  Fortunately, there are tools and services that help people find the content, conversations, and people that are meaningful to them (such as Newstex, which helps people find authoritative content).

So is there a difference between real-life person and online persona?  I think there is more than one answer to that question.  For some people, there might not be a difference at all.  For others, the difference might be subtle.  However, for many, that difference is probably quite great, and as long as you’re not lying, that’s okay.

After all, we have to keep something to ourselves, right?  Unless you’re on Jersey Shore.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: etherbrian.org