I’ve never been afraid to admit online that I don’t know something. When I first started tweeting I saw the letters RT everywhere. The only thing I could think of was “Richard Thompson,” one of my favorite folk/rock musicians. But I was pretty sure he hadn’t become a Twitter cult celebrity. What was this “RT” all about? I asked. I asked what “MT” stood for, too. I googled “#ff” because I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to what that stood for. Whether it’s been on a blog post, on Facebook, in a Twitter chat, or in a conversation, I don’t have a problem saying, “Um, I don’t know.” Sometimes I’ll even pull a person into the conversation who is more knowledgeable than me.
I’ve also never had a problem admitting I was wrong about things, or at least admitting that I had reconsidered things. I tend to get a lot of blowback in these instances. I wrote a post awhile back saying that I had, after careful deliberation, opted to delete my Pinterest account. About a month or 2 later, I revisited Pinterest and found some fun things that could be done with it. So, my opinion had changed. My opinion about Triberr has changed about once every six months (I really really like it right now). I’ve talked to a lot of people, tried new things, and the platform itself has changed in ways that address things I didn’t like before. So, when I said Triberr wasn’t right for me, I might not have been right. Or things may have changed.
I’m ok with that.
Sadly, admitting to a lack of knowledge, or admitting that maybe you need to reconsider your position – these do not seem to be easy admissions for people in the online world. People have flat out ignored me or made stuff up when I asked them something they clearly didn’t know the answer to. People of course (famously or infamously) are likely to call you a “hater” if you insinuate that what they are saying might not be sound advice.
It should not be difficult to admit that you don’t know something. Nobody really expects you to know everything about everything. It doesn’t matter how many Facebook friends you have, how many blog subscribers you have, or how many followers you may lay claim to on Twitter. None of these things, not even all of them combined, makes you a god. You are still an imperfect being. I’m sorry to lay this cold truth on you this way, but these are just the facts.
You can be wrong sometimes. You can encounter conversations where you may not know the answer. That’s ok. That’s to be expected. You’re a human, not C3PO. And heck, even HE admitted when he was being pushed beyond his limits.
Talking about stuff as if you know it when you really don’t makes you look worse than simply saying, “I don’t know.” Ignoring a person who has asked you a question makes you look far worse than simply advising that person to ask someone else. Admitting that you were wrong about something (in my opinion) is far preferable to calling anyone who points it out a “hater.” By the same token, making someone feel like crap because their opinion changed (if they provide good reason) is also kind of lame.
So often in the online world you see cries of “Be real! Be human! Be authentic! Be transparent!” Well, few things are more authentic, more human, than saying, “Geeze, I have no idea.”
Let go of the pressure you feel to be perfect. It’s unattainable. Be human. Be you. Be that imperfect, wonderful, unique, transparently awesome, authentically flawed you.
What do you say?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryofnsw/3284118942/ via Creative Commons