Published in Esperanto Magazine:
Digital Edition For Online – Esperanto – “Aleczander Gamboa wants you to be yourself online and IRL.”
There are two sides of the internet. There is the fun side – endless hours of YouTube, the amusements of pornography, and laughing at all the relatable memes that bombard our Facebook news feeds. Then we have the dark side of the internet – the online identity, where we can pretend to be someone completely different to who we actually are in real life.
We can see the internet as a “second chance” of sorts. After all, it does give us total control of who we can be. If you’re an awkward person who sweats waterfalls at the thought of talking to another human being, then the internet allows you to say things to others that you would never actually say in person. You’re pretty much given the opportunity to recreate your entire being.
But we all know it’s a volcano just waiting to erupt.
Don’t get me wrong, their certainly is an appeal with creating a completely different personality online, especially when it’s used to convey your deepest feelings to someone else. We’ve all had that experience of confessing something face to face, only to have it backfire and becoming the latest topic for juicy gossip. In order to feel more reassured, we seek comfort typing behind a computer screen, protected from the cruel outside world.
But the downside to having two identities is that you begin to have an internal conflict between who you are in reality and who you pretend to be online. It’s even worse if you’re talking to someone online who believes you’re actually this witty, confident and charming individual, yet when they talk to you in person, your lack of interpersonal skills begin to emerge and everything takes a turn for the worst.
This kind of scenario happened to my close friend. There was a boy she liked who went to same school as us, same year level as well. So every time she would talk to him in person he would be extremely awkward, disturbed and usually provide one worded responses that never seem to stimulate further conversation. Yet, whenever she talked to him online, he seemed absolutely incredible. If you only knew him from a bar of soap, you would immediately think he was a confident, proud, witty and humorous person. And he seemed to be everything she wanted to have in a relationship. She began to like him. But their physical conversations always left her bemused, and the whole pattern would repeat again and again. He would act strange in person, but whenever he was online, he was practically an Adonis.
All in all, he had a completely different personality online as opposed to the one he had in real life. The moral from this is if you pursue this kind of compartmentalisation in your life, you’re never going to win in the real world; especially if your online identity is a mask to hide your true colours. As Hamlet once said to Ophelia – “God has given you one face, and yet you make yourself another. The battle between these two halves of identity, who we are and who we pretend to be, is unwinnable.” And I think Hamlet was pretty damn right.