Virtual Insanity: Online Lives Are Works Of Fiction
The internet gives us ‘regular people’ the opportunity to have a little bit of shine. But can we handle it?
Back in the days on the boulevard of Black Planet, people got comfortable with the concept of using what they had to amass online "friends.” We posted our most flattering pics, interesting celebrity shots found on the web, witty bios and whatever else we could to attract visitors to our pages. And so it continued on with MySpace and Facebook and now Twitter, Tumblr and Google+.
Everyone wants to be liked and appreciated and for many the web has given them the opportunity to experience that in ways they wouldn’t be able to offline. Like Kanye said, “We can’t all be American Idols/but you can grab a camera and shoot a viral” video. And that’s a very cool thing. However, it seems that some people are taking the quest for online notoriety in the wrong direction.
As a journalist in this social media age, I spend a lot of time online. While I scan sites and timelines I see two glaring examples of the wrong way to get an online rep. For one, there seems to be a lot of folks who are blogging not because they love writing or because they have some opinions they want to share with the world, but because they see it as an opportunity to get attention. That’s weak like clock radio speakers, seriously. Yes, some people have grown large audiences from their blogging and a few -- as in a handful -- others have made a fortune. However, if your sole purpose for getting in the online game is so people will know who you are, I’d reconsider.
Then, there’s the online thug who wouldn’t have the courage to swat a fly in real life, but can be a tough-talking menace behind the safety of an unknown IP address. We’ve all come across the dude who couldn’t get a girl to take his number if it was written down on a $20 bill in a nightclub, yet managed to cultivate a captive audience online who will listen to him rant and rave about how women need to cook more. How about the girl who was bullied in class and now uses her unlimited data plan to attack women who represent some of the things that make her insecure? People are using the Internet to be the folks they wish they were in their face-to-face human interaction. Too bad so many of them want to be insufferable and pompous.
I’m not gonna lie, I can be pretty sarcastic my darn self on these here interwebs. But to be fair, that’s how I am in real life. And I don’t do it for the purpose of gaining notoriety. In fact, I recognize that it’s a personality trait that turns many people off. You can usually tell the people who are attempting to use the “I don’t give a f___” attitude to build up a cool persona because they go so darn hard with trying to tear people down or to show how tough they are.
The net gives us an amazing opportunity to link with people across the world, people whom we would have never met otherwise. But it should not be a place where we seek to create false images or big ourselves up for the sake of looking or feeling popular. Be yourself online and allow who you really are to shine. Not everyone is gonna be a Z-list web celeb, but if you are true to yourself you may be surprised at how many people appreciate you after all. Or you may find a small circle of folks with whom you have an organic connection, which is infinitely more valuable than having a human laugh track that follows you as you fake the funk.