“Describe yourself in 250 words or less.”
“Share your bio here.”
“Write some details about yourself.”
When I was 13 years old, I set up my very first blog, along with almost every single prepubescent girl at the time.
My blog URL was something like ‘sparklegalzrox’, and if you had visited it back then, you’d have been greeted with a garishly pink wallpaper, the overeager welcome of a *~My DoMaIn~* banner, and staticky bubblegum pop blasting out of your speakers.
In the profile description, I promptly typed out my name, age and school. And that was it–my very first encounter with filling out my profile.
Over the next 10 years, I enthusiastically created–and eventually deleted–many a blog. And in the process, my profile descriptions slowly expanded, as I added in superfluous tidbits here and there to spice things up–to make my profile seem more me.
My marital status. My self-professed love for God. Likes and dislikes. A wish list (or more accurately, a please-buy-these-for-me list). A quote or song lyric I’d taken a fancy to.
But the more time I spent on the web, the more self-conscious I became about how I presented myself to the virtual world.
As I transited from personal platforms like Friendster and Tumblr, to LinkedIn and WordPress, my ‘about me’ became more than just that. It became a flashing signpost selling my individuality and strengths.
I find myself hesitating, fingers stationary on the keyboard, as I think of all the nouns and adjectives I could label myself as. I’ve had countless internal debates over what’d be considered pertinent, interesting and representative enough for me to share.
Is it my age, nationality or gender? My faith in and relationship with God? My ambition to be a writer? My academic achievements, my scholarship award, my past work experience? Who am I and how am I supposed to fully capture me?
Or it is not a question of defining myself but, rather, one of presenting myself the way I hope to be seen?
After all, how are you supposed to define yourself through a limited number of words, when you’re a person with innumerable thoughts and memories, inexpressible feelings and dreams, and intangible qualities and traits?
How do you describe yourself without magnifying who you are, publicising what you own or exaggerating what you can do, when the attention of the world is often fixated on puffed-up caricatures of all of the above?
And how can you talk about yourself without reducing your identity to a string of carefully selected positions and titles that can never fully or truly encapsulate you in your entirety?
And in just 250 words, no more!
Questions like these swirl around in my head as I poise to fill in my profile.
It’s a perennial problem, and one unlikely to go away, in the face of the perpetual presence and proliferation of social media sites.
And I’ve found that I’ve no easy answer, when I’m faced with that empty white box that beckons me to “share with us who you are.”
What does your profile description say, and how much of it is really about you?