Going public can feel really scary. Partly because it feels definite, a sort of uneraseable. Therefore I do understand some people express anxiety over for instance blogging. Their thoughts are brought into the light, exposing them to the critical eye of the global public.

I think the fears are fully natural and explainable, because everyone was once a beginner, within every single field we ever tried exploring. The first steps are perhaps the most scary ones, perhaps most often the largest obstacle on the journey. Then we start performing some actions, either guided by teachers, literature, or just by pure trial-and-error. Some fields eventually become a hobby, profession, occupation, a part of one’s identity.

So maybe it is not surprising people can sense fear before different forms of online participation and going public. Everyone must have this feeling of being fragile while exposing a piece of work, at some point in the beginning. I think this comes from creating an illusion of billions of critical eyes of the global public scrutinizing one’s work or creations. As beginners people tend to perceive their work or actions might be judged because they are – beginners, and not professionals. The second part of the explanation why one might feel anxiety is rooted in some kind of instinct to guard the inner layers of our identity. I think it might be as natural as protecting our existence, only here we are protecting our innermost thoughts and identity.

I believe the only way of overriding one’s fear is actually exposing oneself to it. I am drawing this conclusion from own experience, which I’d like to share here:

In my early career working as a meteorologist, I had to do radio interviews and reports, appearances on television, different events, and customer briefings. I will never forget the feeling minutes before my first appearances. It is scary, it even provides physical evidence of one’s fear including all symtoms of stress. But just after the first achievement it becomes much easier. The next phase is when one deepens the feeling of comfort when participating. Eventually, it becomes as natural as talking to a colleague or a friend, one relaxes and perhaps even uses a personal tone I one’s voice and, when suitable, formulates presentations in a personal way in order to capture the interest of the audience.

Blogging is just like that. It incapsulates the same kind of performance, experience, and emotions. I think that blogging possesses all the elements of a conventional presentation and media participation. In addition, I believe that neither the tone or the content necessarily has to become private at all. It can be personal without being private at all. So, by simply starting writing a first post, the biggest obstacle is already removed, concurring one’s worst fears of going public. 

There is another very important component when it comes to understanding the fears of getting online and publishing one’s blog posts and thoughts. Online participation in social media of a more social nature might meet additional obstacles. Here I believe identity comes into play.

Grown-ups who, just as my self, aren’t digital natives were not raised with social media as a tool for common socializing and communication. For us social media might represent a useful tool, but it did not interact and merge with our identity while we were growing up, forming the identities that define who we are. In contrast to my generation, digital natives have been using social media from early age. They have used technology for socializing in a completely different way, to quite large extent, and for a long period of time. Enough to integrate social media with personal identity and behavior. While I can appreciate turning down the technology, getting offline, and enjoying some other activity or artifact, digital natives probably feel that social media is as natural as speech it just doesn’t need to be turned off. It is not only fun and useful, it is a part of one’s life, physical body as well as inner identity.

This might explain the difference between different generations’ attitude towards social media, what and how one writes and publishes, and how one relates to social media and fears. Very young grown-ups who are also digital natives, have a strong sense of social media being integrated with their identity, therefore no fears or concerns are raised about sharing private thoughts. As a non-native one draws a line between being private and being personal, and most of the older generations would probably prefer holding on to presenting facts.

So, in my opinion, two factors are imperative: prior relationship to technology, and prior experience.

Because we cannot change who we are mixing with our identity, I guess we can just grab a keyboard and start writing in order to overcome our fears of exposing ourselves into the public.

Fears and anxiety over going online and the question of private vs professional