We talk about "persona" in my writing class. It usually takes students a minute to grasp what it means, but it usually helps them when I say, "Your *person* is who you *are.* Your *persona* is who a stranger reading your facebook page *thinks* you are." An author chooses to reveal or not reveal certain kinds of information about herself, and the information is not always reliable, comprehensive, or even honest.
I thought I had a pretty good concept of persona. (Better than my students, at least. Right?) But then yesterday, I was reading this blog. When the author revealed information about herself, I thought it was reliable. (And if you want to know, I was DEEPLY, DEEPLY distressed.) But then I found out that the subject (the person I thought was the author, herself) of the blog is a completely fictional character. (This is when I started laughing.)
It made me rethink my gut idea about persona. Because it turns out that when people tell me who they are (like on a blog), I automatically *believe* them. It's my default position.
But persona is a poetic construction manipulated for rhetorical goals. (not always in a bad way--like your resume; you want it to make you look good, but you don't want to be found out as a fraud, so you usually choose stuff that is both true *and* flattering.)
But who you are and who people *think* you are... well, those are completely different people.