As the title suggests, I want to ramble on a little about the internet and how we, as individuals, can be perceived.
I’ve thought about this all week (on and off). Who are we exactly? Do we always portray our true selves online?
I’ve been disillusioned recently. A handful of people that I thought were actually friends – have turned out to be anything but. I’m not going to name them and I’m sure if they read this they’ll realise I’m talking about them. I just hope that they take this post for what it is – a musing and not a moan. If they don’t – c’est le vie.
So, perceptions. I used to think I was good at judging people. With my job I find that I can read people quite well, but that is of course when I see them and gauge their body language etc.
Online – I’m rubbish. No, really. I am.
I take a lot of what people tell me at face value. I don’t consider the fact that they may be lying or exaggerating, and I always look to see the good in them.
For example: one person told me that they “were always right” and had “read every book on writing and poetry by all the greats.” Now, I thought they might be exaggerating and I pushed it to one side. I didn’t see the arrogance in their demeanour until one day I dared have an opposing opinion. After that – I was told several times that I wasn’t intelligent enough and I simply did not understand the poetry – and this person went as far as to call me liar. With this person upsetting me (and me telling them that) – their response was to call my upset self harm; they failed to see that they had said anything untoward.
I forwarded on the email thread to 2 people. The first thought the other person was dangerous, and a very odd individual with an ego so inflated that they would never see the error of their ways. The other thought this person was beyond arrogant and wondered why I ever spoke to them. Why indeed. Well, I didn’t think to consider that this person might be portraying a persona and only showing me a certain side of their personality. I threw myself into a friendship without thinking.
This was my worse experience – the others involve the usual back-biting, stalkers, terribly written love stories involving bodily fluids being exchanged and play fighting with cupcakes, and being used for information for my job.
Not all in that order, and some of those are combined.
When chatting to another friend about this issue: we discussed the fact that so many people seemed to portray a different side of them to the online community. The shyest of people become flirtatious and chatty. The insecure ones demand presence and status by striking out with an unwarranted and unearnt authority. and so on.
Hiding behind avatars and screen names these personas become something dangerous. We start to believe in them, become friends with them and sometimes this backfires and we start to see the truth in them.
And it hurts.
I think I must be an idiot though – I keep doing it. I’m hoping that I’ve clued up a little now.
From now on …I won’t be believing anything, well, not until I’ve got to know the person better.
Again, I’m not perfect. BUT I do ‘pitch’ the way I speak to people until I know them. For instance, I try and find out the age of the person I’m corresponding with. If they are a lot younger, or older – then I try not to swear so much. Respect, you know? I don’t however behave or email in any other way than my usual cheery self. I simply don’t have the energy to hide my personality.
I’m not quite marmite though …
Of course, it might be that these people really are egomaniacs, sex pests, stalkers, users and bullies in real life … but I really hope not.
Ever the optimist.