(Apologies in advance for a long post!) A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece that many people related to, titled “Behind the scenes of Life”. It explored something a friend brought to my attention – we tend to compare everyone else’s high points to our high-, low- & in-between-points.
Social media has a way of exaggerating this. Or rather, the way we use social media sites tends to emphasise the contrast between my own troubles and insecurities, and everyone else’s oh-so-perfect lives, which leads to a bit of a ‘virtual identity crisis’. Since we connect with so many people online that we don’t physically meet up with, this notion becomes more interesting.
I asked some friends on Google+ to give me an idea of what they perceived my identity to be. Two friends responded with some in-depth thoughts, and it is based on their insights that I can share this with you today.
The opinion of my daily life was built on what I have chosen to say about it and how often I post. According to what I post, I am either a fulltime creative, or have an evening job. Because I try not to go overboard with posting new things, even if I am at the computer from morning to early afternoon, it was thought that I “hold a fulltime job and/or are a fulltime student,” and this opinion overrode the previous one.
In reality, I work part-time as a teacher (but worked as a full-time classroom teacher for the past few years) from about 3pm to 8pm. Mornings are for creative writing, blogging, doing the housework, and occasionally meeting up with friends.
I sometimes practice the ukulele or guitar in this time, and am trying to make time for drawing. On rough days, mornings are spent convincing myself that I am capable and ready to face the big, wide world outside my own head.
Age, Ethnicity, Family…
Age was pretty close at “mid to late 20s” (I’m 24) but ethnicity was a tricky one. For all intents and purposes I’m a Kiwi, culturally speaking, but in reality I’m an English/Indian/Portuguese/Irish mix. So that was a bit of a trick question (sorry, Amanda & Joy!).
Relationship history was also accurate (I have had some, uh, interesting relationships, and definitely been hurt), but I am not single or in a ‘new’ relationship. I’ve been with my partner for nine months (so a young relationship, perhaps, but not a new one), and we were close friends before that. I do currently live alone, though.
Family was interesting. One friend thought I come from a ‘broken’ family, based on a post about unrealistic expectations. I guess I don’t write about them much, and so it naturally leaves more to the imagination. While my grandfather was like a parent to me, I came from a pretty stable family – mum’s a teacher, dad’s an accountant, and my brother and sister are both students (I’m the oldest). One dog, two cars and a vege patch in the garden – everything but the white picket fence, really. I also grew up with my granddad, “Pa” who is very special to me.
I think the accuracy of demographics is based on how much you specifically share about your family & relationships, as well as photographs – neither of which I have much of (read: more personal life stuff to come!)
What was interesting about this perception was not the activities in question, but the frequency of them. They’re my hobbies, I enjoy them, so I like sharing them with you guys. However, the amount I write about them is very different to how much I actually do them (the amount I write about them is how much I’d like to be doing them). I’d venture a guess that it’s the same for you, right?
The accuracy of this is based on how much – or rather, how little – we talk about our hobbies.
This one was pretty accurate, indicating to me that my personal voice really comes through, which I’m really happy about. I’d like you to be able to connect with a real-as-possible me, not a persona hidden behind a false image, thank-you-very-much. I “want to be real about who [I am]”, as one friend stated.
I make an effort to write how I speak (with slightly better use of the English language, and the exception of how-to posts like this one), and share the raw, real version of me with you. This does take an effort, but I think it’s important that we begin to realise that we’re not alone in our struggles and insecurities, and that is why my personality and my voice come through so accurately.
What are your thoughts about online identities? I am looking forward to hearing some interesting thoughts about this one.
And what about YOUR online identity? How well does it line up with you in day-to-day life?