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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Seeing ourselves as others see us 

I picked up a copy of the latest edition of US Marie Claire for my journey home on Monday (my brain not feeling up to dealing with the book I'd concientiously taken out with me). There was an interesting article in it where they'd got this guy to correspond with three women via e-mail and to draw what he thought they looked like based on those e-mails. He then met up with each of them and compared his impression of the 'virtual' them to the reality, and the women compared his e-mail impression of them to their impression of themselves. It finished off with a couple of paragraphs about how little things you say can significantly shape people's impressions of you and how e-mail was a great opportunity to show yourself off at your best (this being a glossy women's magazine, it was of course being looked at in a dating context, because that is obviously our major concern sigh).

The article was an interesting read, especially having just being through Welcome Weekend and met a number of people who I'd been e-mailing or exchanging messages with on the boards, and having met up with a few fellow bloggers in recent weeks. Personality I think comes through very strongly, especially when you read enough things from people over a period of time. Appearance less so, although personality indicators might mean that you rule some things out and decide that others are highly likely. And I know that I've made incorrest assumptions about people based on things they've said, and that some people have done the same about me. As for showing myself off at my best, I've pretty much taken the approach here that this is me, like it or lump it. I'm too long in the tooth, and have had too much experience of someone getting upset/angry with me because I didn't conform to their view of what I should be, either to play games and pretend to be something/someone I'm not, or to get upset if someone doesn't like who and what I am.

Having said that, I have found myself pondering the whole issue of anonymity/identifiability that I know lots of the mba blogging community has struggled with. I knew when I started out that my most obvious characteristics, indeed the ones that led to my name here, would put me in a pretty small pool and make me pretty easy to identify to anyone who wanted to make the effort. As it's turned out, it'll need minimum effort ( as far as I can ascertain I'm currently the only British female in the Wharton class of 2007). And I've always taken the line that I wouldn't share anything that I wasn't comfortable with people knowing about me when they encountered me in either human of application form. But it does feel a bit odd to be greeted as 'britchick' by someone that, afaik, I haven't actually met (and when I haven't even opened my mouth and potentially identified myself by accent). Sort of like having a flashing neon sign above my head. And, if I think about it too much, it's strange thinking that people know things about me without me having the sort of reciprocal information you generally get through 'real world' interaction.

How all this feeds through to blogging as a student, and blogging about what will be the main part of my life, rather than the isolated aspect of it that applying has been, I'm not sure. Something to think about, I guess.

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