Let’s be frank:

I go first. When I post pictures of my kid I look forward to a “like”. I love when people comment how cute she is. When I post a link to the BatesHook blog, I hope for clicks. And, possibly, retweets. And, when the numbers don’t work out, I question the quality of the post. Come on, Uwe, you can write a better post. And, maybe, just maybe, my daughter should have a bigger smile next time.

A “like”, a retweet, a comment determines now how you feel about yourself. How interesting your life is. Please #FF me, please RT me, please “like” me, please comment, do something, for God sake.

When we’re in the real world, we don’t push the self-promotion button so hard. We drop hints (“I used to work with this Fortune 10 brand”), we might share with friends that my kid participates in a dance performance. But we don’t promote our lives all day long. (“Hey, I’m planning a trip to Bismarck on TripIt.”) We don’t share every little detail with everybody. (“Hey, I’m at this bar, having a margarita, while you’re at home doing nothing. I’m awesome.”)

It became too easy to promote yourself. It’s hard to market yourself in person. It’s easy to send out a tweet or another Facebook update. The virtual world allows you to  become delusional: “I have numbers. I have retweets. People love me.” The real world has  no block button.

Selling in the real world requires a lot of guts. In the virtual world, it requires an update button.

Being part of the Social Web changes everything. It gives you the opportunity to push your personal brand 24/7. That’s why we see all these updates of people greeting another amazing day, reinventing the world as they post. While everything stays the same. Oh, and while you’re at it, why not promoting events of friends? Crowd-source a conference aka High-School popularity contest a conference. And other things nobody cares about. Suddenly, you’re in the business of selling yourself.

“Like” my picture. Read my post. Retweet me. This is a link you need to share. Look at me. Look at my work. Look at me. Look at me.

More pathetically, we all start to check our stats. How often we were retweeted, shared, liked and, yes, loved.

Between you and me:

What you’re sharing has nothing to do with you. It’s all about your personal brand. It’s about portraying an image to the world. This is who I want you to think of me. Not who I am.

That’s the problem. We’re not real. We’re trying to sell an image. A brand. Something we want to be. And I have problems understanding who you really are. Did you really read that book you reviewed on Goodreads or did you just post it to add to your brand? Did you really enjoy the afternoon with your family or did you just post pictures because it added to your brand as a family person?

People might follow you closely and they love everything you write. But it’s becoming harder to understand what you actually have to offer. When everything is for sale, suddenly everything looks cheap. We used to be luxury brands; we turned into 99 Cents only stores.

Sure, filters will help. Turning noise into signals. I’m worried it will filter things out I would like to know. Things I should see. Things I should learn. Maybe the answer is less about relying on technology and more relying on our common sense: Next time you’re about to hit that update button, post another picture of your baby, check-in to another bar, plan another bar – hit cancel. And shut down the phone.

It’s fine to sell. But not everything you do should be for sale.