The Virtual Life of a Real Person: Twitter
On twitter, are we being someone we’re not.. or who we really are?.. #imo
@PersonA: its the difference between mouth n mind, on twitter, we speak with our mind via hands. Seriously speaking– the internet, especially social networking, is a place of no faces just voices (thoughts)- real or not.
@PersonB @PersonC: there’s a barrier, which allows you to be a bit more bold in saying what u want online.. which u might not in person.
@PersonA: dat barrier is instant reactions in person n benefit of doubt, online. Evry wrng move, gets benefit of doubt, online @PersonC
@PersonB: hmm idk, i personally feel less inhibited to say some things on twitter. some of which i wld hesitate 2 say in person @PersonC
@PersonA: online, if u say smthing bad n get a bad reaction, u have d room to say u meant smthing else n get d benefit of doubt @PersonC
@PersonB: does that mean we’re more cautious/held back in real life interactions than online? online, you’re more free/open?
Are you the person we know online or are you really who you are in person? Confused? Good, you should be! – because this is a topic that I find fascinating as much as I find baffling! If you’re frequently on social networking sites, like Twitter or Facebook, then you are leading an online life in addition to an offline life. You’re in two worlds – the real and the virtual. Now tell me this, how much of your online life overlaps with your real life? Are you exactly the person you are online as you are offline? I’d argue that you’re not and that, to some extent, it’s almost like you’re leading dual lives.
I’ve noticed that on Twitter that the quiet are outspoken and the outspoken are… well, annoying. The online world presents as open microphone – speak your mind, share your thoughts, anonymously or not – without the fear of that instant face-to-face reaction from your audience. Your computer screen is a barrier. That barrier is a safety blanket. You’re less hesitant to say things online that you normally wouldn’t in person. In reality or in person you may be more cautious; you might hold back or maybe think twice before saying something. Online, you just tweet it out… after all, there is the option to delete afterwards.
I’m going to go as far as to say that we all do this – we all create an alter ego for ourselves online – to some degree, because somehow we are each lacking something in our lives. It could be anything. But it’s something we seek for fulfilment. Acceptance perhaps. That feeling of fitting in. Belonging – we all desire that. After all, it’s human nature. Perhaps subconsciously, it is that what pulls us into the online world. I’m not saying that you’re seeking acceptance online because you are ostracised from society.
What I am saying is that, simply, it’s an innate desire to want to find your niche. You can try what you wouldn’t in ‘real life’ – You can wildly tweet your mind; show off your intelligence in hope of gaining approval or that oh-so-wonderful re-tweet. Admit that you love getting your tweets re-tweeted! You can start a debate or discussion on whatever you want with likeminded individuals that you may not have access to in real life. You can even tweet simple, mundane things that most of us tend to agree with, like “Why is life so complicated?” or “Justin Bieber is hot”. OK, you won’t find me agreeing to the latter one, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find others on Twitter who do.
Maybe it’s companionship. Sure, you have your ‘real life’ friends, but maybe there is a small feeling of loneliness that you seek to fulfill by building an online identity and in doing so, creating a personalised online world for yourself. With Twitter, at least in my opinion and once you have established a following, you don’t feel all that alone. Speak – tweet – your heart out, someone is bound to listen. You will always have an ear (or two… or more) online who will listen to you rant, sympathise, offer a shoulder or some wisdom. We are social creatures; no one wants to be alone. It’s a good feeling when you always have someone around to listen to you. You tend to do all that you can to make sure your online persona is liked. That could mean constantly being friendly and polite to others online, when in reality we aren’t always happy, kind, jolly folks 24-7. Do you really smile to ‘strangers’ as much as you send smileys on Twitter?
So what does this all mean? What are we all seeking online? Are we all being someone we’re not, or alternatively, someone who we really are online? When are you most in your element? Online or off? Or Both?