It’s a strange thing to say, coming from someone who makes his living writing for websites, but a thought occurred to me as I was trolling around the Internet looking at my various social media profiles (Facebook, for example), wondering whether I was conveying the right message about myself.

The thought was: “You are not your website.”

If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re wasting too much time online thinking about what you want to do rather than doing it, here’s my take.

Stop Wanting, Start Being

We have an unprecedented opportunity these days to be almost anything we want. But wanting is much different from being, and as great as the Web is, it tends to exacerbate the underlying problem we all have: we tend to want too much.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting per se, except for ceaseless and mindless wanting, and this can find expression online.


We compare the number of friends or fans we have on Facebook, for instance, to the number other people have, and in that way measure our self-worth.

We agonize over the content on our websites in an attempt to convey authority and credibility—even if we’re not yet certified specialists, masters, gurus, ninjas, etc.—and therefore find ourselves really fantasizing rather than doing.

We spend too much time composing our LinkedIn and Twitter profiles so that we appear to be who we want to be, rather than getting out there and doing real marketing.

True “Organic Growth”

If you want to do the Web and social media right, you’ll allow it to grow organically. By that I mean you’ll do and be first, then write or post about it, not the other way around.

Be who you are, not who you want, and your life online (and off) will make more sense.



  1. Avatar Mellisa says:

    True to every field in life… (and sad that we are actually think this way…)

  2. Avatar Manfred says:

    Interesting. My office spends a lot of time cultivating an image on the Internet.

    • Avatar Chris Bradley says:

      Which is fine. Definitely nothing wrong with that. Many people argue that cultivating an image—both online and off—is essential to a successful practice. I agree. But you’ve been practicing since 1992 and you’ve been running your own firm for more than 10 years. I am willing to bet that by the time you began working on your online image, you already had some real experience under your belt. Not to say that newer lawyers shouldn’t try. It’s just that they have to remember what’s important.

  3. Avatar Chris Bradley says:

    Also, for follow-up reading, I just came across this piece in The Atlantic, in which James Bennet writes, “[A]s the technology of social media rewires all our ways of dealing with one another, it is turning individual brand-building into a full-time, alienating preoccupation.”

    Well said.

  4. Avatar brint says:

    Beautiful and life-affirming realization, Chris! Jean Baudrillard wrote a great deal bout this very idea (though, more bleakly). He supposed that with every image representing you, a little piece of you disappears behind it — replaced by an artificial survival.

    “It is, unfortunately, quite possible that we ourselves, as a species, already form part — in the form of cloning, computerization and the networks, for example — of this artificial survival, of this prolongation to perpetuity of something that has disappeared, but just keeps on and on disappearing.”
    -Jean Baudrillard

Leave a Reply