who are you today?

Living mostly in my offline life these days, I occasionally miss the person I am online. Here,  I’m stripped of all my little fears and paranoias.  As a child I imagined myself as a princess, graceful, poised, intelligent, courageous, the girl who speaks her mind and is beautiful to behold–and indeed I am have become that, here, a virtual swan only. Reinvented, as any socially awkward person would, in a better personality, a better self.

In real life I’m not half so interesting–in fact, I’m clumsy, cynical, and more than a little insecure. Sometimes I talk too much, too loudly, and other times I’m stricken with bouts of crippling shyness. And while I am petite and pretty by any standards, be assured I have broken more than my fair share of flatware, sprained not a few fingers and toes, simply out of a sheer inability to control my own body. Indeed,  in some ways I am less afraid of my online secrets  being revealed than I am of my online friends discovering my true self.

Last spring I did a small research project on telecommunications infrastructure for rural economic development–it’s a major policy issue, and a topic of great discussion in the media and elsewhere. In my area, there are many towns that are stuck with dial-up, where people prefer a landline due to a scarcity of towers and geographical interference. We’re ten years behind most major cities technologically, and that gap is growing fast. That’s by US standards–by global standards the scale changes drastically, of course.

Think of the people in those places, where the internet only barely exists. Or, think of your own life in some freak alternate universe post zombie-attack or peak oil or disaster situation of choice.

Who are you, offline? And who would you be, if you had never known anything different?

4 Responses to who are you today?

  1. it’s a bit sad to say, perhaps, but i truly cannot picture who i would be had i passed my teenage years without the internet. now is a bit different. or extraordinarily similar, but to a much lesser degree.

    the lack of internet infrastructure is a fairly big issue here (locality and profession) as well.

  2. mesoterica says:

    What a delight to see another post from you! And such a thought-provoking one, at that.

    Offline I am nowhere near as bold and open as I am here. All but a tiny handful of people who know me in my regular life think I am completely straight and was a virgin until I married my husband, and I have never been brave enough to correct them. (Although I should say it’s not entirely a matter of courage; I’m also a very private person and wouldn’t talk about it with most people, even leaving aside the fear aspect, if I didn’t think it any of their business.) What I like about blogging is that it gave me an opportunity to find a sense of community with people I have so much in common with but would never have known without this veil of anonymity. I will forever treasure that, and genuinely do not believe I would have made it this far in my life as (reasonably) well-adjusted as I am if I didn’t have this outlet for my secret self.

    (Speaking of, BTW: don’t think I’ve forgotten about that threesome you alluded to in your last post! We ever going to hear about that, pretty pretty please? ;D)

  3. backlist says:

    People often say to me after interviews or initial conversations that I’m just not what they expected. My forward self is outgoing, pleasant, talkative, smiling. On average though, I listen more than speak, smile when I’m genuinely pleased, wait for others to exhaust the conversation first. I’m trying to bring the two more in line (and slowly succeeding) but it’s a never-ending battle. That said, online and offline personas are all you, if you like, you can tap into either at anytime.

  4. linaria says:

    lady brett: yeah. it’s really hard for me to imagine what middle and high school would have been like without the various messageboards etc that I was on. as it was, struggled with the same depression and isolation that most young queer people probably have–I can’t imagine what it would have been like without the internet.

    mesoterica: …I will see what I can do for you. at the time I wrote some of it down, but never made a real post because then she departed and it hurt a little too much. now might be a good time, though.

    backlist: indeed.

    although I am skeptical of your theory that one’s various personas can really be effective outside their native context.

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