Online persona vs. real person - Jay Maynard

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Friday, 15 November 2002


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1644 - Online persona vs. real person

I'm writing this a week after I'd decided to, due to the recent trip and a few other things that intervened...

In his comment on my LJ entry of a week ago, youngvanwinkle took exception to my using his real name, saying that his online persona and his real person are two different things and should not be confused, and further that I hadn't met his real person. I don't believe there are enough fundamental differences to make the distinction meaningful, especially when it comes to opinions on subjects in the real world. I may not have met Daniel, by his reasoning...but if I haven't, I've met the effects of his actions and opinions in my life, and that's good enough for me. If he's that different from his online persona, then he's deliberately acting in a manner designed to be objectionable to me, and that's even worse.

My online persona on IRC (which is the medium that he and I share, to my slight continuing discomfort) is different in detail from who I am in real life, but I make no attempt to behave differently in regard to my interactions with the real world there than I do anywhere else. (I'd trade my body for Sheila's in a New York minute were it possible, but that's about it.) If you see me arguing something online, you can expect the same argument from me in real life. If I don't consider someone a friend online, I don't consider them a friend in real life...and so on.

I don't think it's useful or even honest to have one's primary online persona be too different from who one is in real life. To do so only hides one from the people one interacts with, and makes the relationship thus formed one based on false pretenses. That can only backfire, eventually. For that matter, I'm not sure it's even possible, unless one is a superb actor - and then that only leaves one's friends wondering if they're dealing with the real person, or just a fiction?

I'd much rather have real friends than fictional ones.

current mood: [mood icon] pensive

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kinkyturtle
Date: - 0000
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[turtle pats yoo on the shoulders with two arms while brushing some lint off yer leotard with his third]
[User Picture]
From:qaianna
Date: - 0000
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I've got a somewhat similar concept between myself here and RL, including the bodyswap desire. Of course, there are some personality aspects that are suppressed both online and in real life, for whatever reasons.
[User Picture]
From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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A few notes on this.

You apparently missed my point, which wasn't that I deliberately behave differently online. You seem to pretty directly imply that, and it's just not true. I don't act the same on here as I do in RL, but it's not a planned or scripted difference, it just happens. And there are a lot of elements in common, but there are quite a few that're different, too. A short summary would be that I'm more open and forthcoming online, and more shy and reserved in RL. I used to just let the valve open completely online, but I've apologized to everyone it might have hurt, and with the exception of one, they've all forgiven me and moved on with their lives. (Interestingly, the more I learn in RL to be less shy and reserved, the less I need to be more open and forthcoming online.)

I don't think I've met a person in RL yet where there was some aspect to their RL behavior that surprised me or was noticeable as different compared to their online personality/behavior.

I don't think of my online friends the same way I think of my RL friends. And I don't treat them the same way. Actually, I can be closer and more open with my online friends than I typically can with my RL ones. It's part of that behavioral difference I noted. I don't know anyone who I'd consider a friend online but wouldn't in RL, but I do hold it to different levels, really. There are things I won't talk about to an online friend in RL (or on the phone); it's just too awkward for me, like it is for any other RL friend. But the next time I see them online, I'm more than okay with talking to them about it then. Heck, there were a couple times I was having IRC conversations with people at the mania in San Diego; not anything particularly heavy was being said, but it was just easier to converse sometimes for me that way.

You were wondering about that attitude that people don't like very much. This is, well, it. You're not just disagreeing with me, you're refusing to respect my worldview. All I really want is to be referred to by my online persona when I'm interacting with you online, and (even after a poll of people I know online) nobody else is unwilling to respect that. You seem to actively disapprove of doing so, though, so I'd ask that as an alternate solution, you stop referring to me at all in your LJ.

This shouldn't be a problem, since you've stated rather bluntly that you'd rather not have me as a friend whether I'm real or, in your definition, fictional.

Long story short: If that's how you want to look at yourself, that's fine with me. But if you can't respect the way I look at myself, like everyone else here can, then please don't shove it in my face, unless you're trying to upset me.
[User Picture]
From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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I don't think I've met a person in RL yet where there was some aspect to their RL behavior that surprised me or was noticeable as different compared to their online personality/behavior.


And I screwed the pooch on that statement. It should read: I don't think I've met a person in RL yet where there wasn't some aspect to their RL behavior that surprised me or...

I wish there was an edit button for comments.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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You're misinterpreting what I said. No, I'm not refusing to respect your worldview; I'm merely disagreeing with it. Normally, when referring to someone in an LJ entry who is an LJ user themselves, I use a user tag. This accomplishes two purposes: it avoids the name issue, and it provides a link back to their other writings.

The journal entry in question was different in that it dealt with my interactions with real people. I wrestled with the question of what names to use for some time, and revised the entry at least once before saving it. I finally settled on using Paul and Bryan's names because Bryan, at least, was complaining about his real-life view of me. I only used your real name for consistency's sake, since speaking of Paul, Bryan, and Mintaka seemed downright weird. It's complicated a little in that your LJ userid bears no relationship to your online handle, thus leading to potentially more confusion.

As for "letting the valve open" online and hurting people, you're missing the point: what you did to me wasn't a result of your letting your feelings out, but rather your destruction of the group of people I'd come to consider friends. It's not your opinions, but your actions, that caused the damage.
[User Picture]
From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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Well, wbwolf doesn't at all like the use of his real name on here either, for what I believe are similar reasons. And if you're not that different between here and there, yourself, then why make the differentiation that he was referring to your "real-life" self? You already said there's no real difference between them, but now you're drawing a line between them. And people who know me already know what my LJ handle is, and people who don't, well, don't need any explanation since they don't know me either way.

And I'm not going to take that last bit of bait.

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