Are You the Same Person Online?

This morning, I read an article on Forbes about the multiple personality disorder of women (and I would argue men, too) in the digital age. It made me think long and hard about two things:

  1. The extent to which my online identities reflect who I am as a person
  2. How bitter I am that my employer didn’t buy me a SXSW badge so that I could attend this talk. It’s right down the street, you assholes.

We all know how it is. You’re posting about the awesome time you are having with awesome people drinking awesome booze at an awesome party. But in reality you are standing in a corner staring at your phone, waiting for someone to comment on all of the awesomeness.

In my experience, there are two types of avid Facebookers: the oversharer and the undersharer.

With the oversharer, you know every tiny detail about their obviously superior life. You know they got to work safe this morning, because they checked in. You know they got laid last night, because the lyrics to “Two Become One” have made a dramatic appearance on this morning’s status update. And you sincerely hope their grandmother recovers from that rash soon, because the photo just looks nasty.

I will never quite understand the oversharer. It seems so silly to act like your life is better than it really is on social media. Sure, you get lots of comments on that flattering photo; but when you run into your FB friends in real life and are still five hundred pounds, the jig is up.

Personally, I take the opposite route. I am an undersharer. You can learn exactly three things from my Facebook profile, all of which are true: I have dogs, I eat, and sometimes people agree to go places with me against their better judgment.

The undersharer uses Facebook just as frequently as the oversharer, but mostly for lurking, stalking, and judging. If only I had a penny for every time one of my Facebook frenemies made a terrible fashion decision.

The two most important social media platforms in my life are Facebook and WordPress.

Facebook is associated with my true identity. To gain access, you’d have to cross-reference my image with thousands of young single women to find my name, illegally obtain my home address, show up with baked goods (just plain courtesy), pin me to a wall, and force me to accept your friend request while holding my dogs hostage.

Ring Finger Tan Line, on the other hand, is only loosely associated with my true identity. To gain access, you need only search for something like “make me a cake bitch,” which I am told will put you on the fast track here.

In theory, “Facebook me” should be closer to reality than RFTL. It’s shared with people I kind-of know and am fairly certain are not serial killers. On the contrary, “Facebook me” sucks. I’m not even funny – I’m shy and strange and don’t want people all up in my business.

When I got an annulment, I even deleted my Facebook page entirely, because there was no way my high school nemesis was learning about my marriage fail on her damned mini feed. The only good thing I can say about “Facebook me” is that she uses proper grammar, and for that, I respect her.

In reality, I see myself so much more of myself in Ring Finger Tan Line. Funny how a cloak of anonymity can be just what you need to open up. I suppose on some level, it makes sense. Somehow it’s just easier to talk about sex toys with strangers than your parents. Go figure.

What do you think? Are you the same in real life as you are online?

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15 thoughts on “Are You the Same Person Online?

  1. Gillian Colbert says:

    I think I’m more openly me, sans disclosing my legal name, online. I don’t censor myself and if you don’t like me don’t follow, there aren’t any repercussions to not being liked online.

    In real life, a boss finding you perverted can lead to dismissal, etc. Also, I don’t have a real-life facebook at all, it’s strictly for my erotica writing and hence my pen name. A very select few know of GC but they read it 😉

  2. FB me is nowhere near as exciting as Food and Wine Hedonist me. That’s why I started it so I could let loose a little more. So in that respect, I’m just like you – except male, Asian, married, and not as good looking. I find with the blog I can develop gags and story lines more. I didn’t want to be one of those people who have 2 paragraph long FB status updates.

    • Yes, that’s true. People have a choice to read my blog or not. I am not posting my life details to people on their mini feed. I think over sharers should all just get blogs for that reason!

  3. Jared says:

    Facebook is nothing more than a “Hollywood virtual reality” for the average person – everyone’s a celebrity, everyone’s a comedian, and everyone’s working to outdo the next… I definitely fall into the “undersharer” category.

    Great read.

  4. Baker Bettie says:

    I don’t think I am really phony online, but I have more confidence online. In reality I am a very shy person, but I don’t think that people know that who I don’t see on a regular basis. I don’t share my whole life, but I am much more outgoing, and I like to think I’m really funny online too. Ha! (not really. I’m the only one that thinks I’m funny)

    • Well I am certainly not shy in real life, but I consider myself so much funnier on the blog! I always found myself very mildly funny, but it wasn’t until the blog that I felt I really had some good old honest humor to add to the world

  5. brains says:

    well, considering that i put all my wordpress posts on facebook, there’s no conflict there. the only thing that is mainly and largely different is that on neither do i say anything about my personal relationship in the present tense. i won’t talk about/if/when i do/don’t/might have a girlfriend. if i do have a girlfriend, i will talk about her as if she were an ex-gf just so that – if i did have a gf – and if someone wanted to see what i was saying – they’d associate what i said with a previous/ex gf.

    i do that for three reasons.

    1. IF i did have a gf, she might possibly have a job of high importance at a state level. and, let’s pretend i’ve got some skeletons in my closet. IF i do have skeletons, they’re My skeletons, not hers, IF there is a her, so i don’t want this alleged HER to have to deal with my alleged skeletons.

    2. i’ve been a teacher for 25 years. kids can find out almost anything, if they’re motivated. i don’t want to have to deal with that. schools and skeletons don’t get along well.

    3. i have a stalker. there’s a woman i used to work with, and she has a really jealous and abusive husband. she and i used to work closely together, teaching the same subject, and we had to e-mail a lot. i forgot to mention she’s an idiot. anyway, she never deletes her e-mails, and her husband snoops through her e-mails, and he saw my name many, many times in her e-mail and accused me of trying to bang his wife, which i can tell you is impossible. have you ever seen the alleged comedian who calls himself “carrot top”? well, this woman could be his twin. so, he was stalking me. still is. he reads my blog constantly. probably half of my visiitors are him. he created a fake facebook page, pretended to be me, found out who some of my friends are, and sent them messages that made it seem like i wanted to sleep with them. he also sends letters to the local newspapers telling them what a horrible person i am. he went to my boss and complained about me, saying i was after his wife. luckily my boss is smart and said, “i’m sorry. you are who? well, why isn’t your wife here complaining? good say, sir.” he likes to make comments on my blog that he thinks i can’t tell are his, but he’s too stupid, and i can always tell which comments are his and delete them.

    4. have a nice day!

    • Wow, that stalker thing sounds very creepy. The only stalkers I have are my dogs, who get upset if I shut the bathroom door before they follow me in. But they’re a lot cuter than carrot top, so I guess I’m lucky.

      • brains says:

        oh, he even sometimes stalks my comments. i’ve seen comments that follow mine, and he leaves certain words and things that are only there to let me know it was him. very creepy.

  6. Meg says:

    I’m totally the undersharer and view oversharers with disdain. In fact, I’ll admit it: there are people I keep on my friends list expressly for the purpose of mocking them with my sister. I think it’s a little crazytown for people to need such constant validation online (says the girl with a blog, Twitter, etc., but hey — I’m a walking contradiction sometimes, and I crave validation in non-FB-related ways).

    I don’t know that I ever overshared — at least, I hope not — but I actually find myself being incredibly guarded on Facebook and rarely posting anything of any consequences. Probably because I know the other lurkers out there are quietly mocking me. Actually, I sort of think Facebook sucks now . . . and at almost 27, I told a friend the other day that I’m “kind of over it.”

    Does that mean I’ll delete it? Probably not. Mostly because so many good old pictures are on there (must make time to save them!). But I find myself checking it once a day, usually before bed, versus the constant checking I used to do years ago. And that was before I had an iPhone, so you know I was serious!

    • Oh my goodness, I do LOVE having at least a couple of oversharers on my mini feed. I have been known to do dramatic readings of a month’s worth of their status updates. It brings me such great joy.

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