I'm not what I tweet

01:26, Oct 30 2012

So, the internet and my life are pretty integrated at this point. I write two or three blog posts here a week, tweet around a hundred times, post two dozen or so pictures to Tumblr, scrobble hundreds of songs to Last.FM and occasionally even upload things to Flickr. I would like to think some kind of authentic self is projected via this multitude of mediums, but it isn't at all.

I find myself incapable of opening up properly on the internet. I might have been born too early. Unless you count private IMs, this is probably the most I have opened up online, and that was just about my love of overlapping windows. The question is of course, is anybody's online presence indicative of their personality?

This came up because I meet people who know me mostly online every now and then. They generally know all the concrete facts about my life - my job, my age, my major, my opinions - the kind of thing you might put in a census. These things are all true, and probably shape who I am more than I would like to admit, but it isn't knowing me. My tweets etc. are all the kinds of things I would say, and I generally agree with most of them, but they are still somewhat edited, somewhat a projection over a reality. When people follow me who know me in real life, none of the stuff they see from me online really contradicts how they actually know me. I'm not 'fake' online; it is just impossible for me to be completely authentic.

Of course, a whole lot of identity is constructed. How does my self-editing when tweeting differ from my self-editing when in any social situation? Everybody changes what they say to differing contexts every single day. People who don't are usually drunk. Still, however, there is much more friction between mind and expression when typing something out. I talk far too fast, and it's mostly because I don't think about it. It just feels like my thoughts; constrained only by language and the context what I am saying. When I post something online I always have time to think about it.  

None of what I am saying here is new. People talk about this narcissistic presentation of a better self all the time. I don't see it in such total terms however. I know people who write about themselves with such fluidity and openness online that I worry which version is more the real them. Are we more honest to a late night tumblr post than our friends in a multi person conversation? Occasionally, yes. The barrier is thinning in some respects, but it still remains gigantic. Every tweet I write feels less controlled.  There are a handful of people who I follow who feel exactly like real people, who seem to have broken down the barrier. The supposed authenticity of stream of conciousness tweeting could just be another construction, but who knows. Occasionally when I'm really really really angry about something I feel like I'm posting about how I actually feel, but whenever I'm crazy happy about something I feel immediately like I'm bragging by saying anything about it, so brag through a filter of some sort.

I haven't talked about anonymity here, but I think many are much more honest without the annoyance of real world repercussions. I think there are some people who truly present an unfiltered self online, and I'm super intrigued with what tools they use to do so. So let me know below, is your Facebook/Twitter anything like you?

Apologies if this kind of pseudo-intellectual garbage ain't your jam, I'll be back to whining about Apple before you know it.

Advertisement