My friend met someone on an online dating website. Upon realising they had mutual friends, they swapped numbers. My friend is loud, confident and likes guys who are the same, so when he started using capital letters and a cheeky selection of punctuation she thought she was on to a winner. Then the Emojis started coming out, replacing words with emoticon style pathetic fallacy. I remember her saying to me that despite her preference for a confident man, she thought perhaps he might be too confident. They finally arranged to meet up, on his turf, somewhere in London. He was practically silent for the whole 4 hours, shy as you like, and my friend didn’t really know what to do with herself. He hadn’t backtracked from his forward flirty behaviour at all, or warned her that he was the silent type. He wasn’t dangerous, but it was clear he wasn’t the man he was online.
Our online persona, unbeknown to ourselves sometimes, can be so different from our real one. On Facebook, Twitter, or over the phone, we are constantly playing versions of ourselves. Humankind is responding to the increasingly inescapable and invasive nature of social media, with an ever growing self-consciousness. It leads us to become so aware of our online presence, that we are no longer ourselves, but versions that we want to be.
I always untag pictures on Facebook which display an unflattering angle, even though all my Facebook friends are people who have spent time with me in real life and know exactly what I look like. I’ve known people to post statuses or tweets saying they’re doing one thing, when in fact they’re doing something completely different, just to make themselves look interesting. It makes you wonder the lengths to which people will go to create the perfect online persona.
Are people spending more time tweeking and renovating their online-selves than they are examining their real characters, and looking for ways to improve the real them?