SpY, via Nuart Festival
Clever bastard, this one.
Thinking this morning, of the old trope, living versus merely existing, as we spend more and more of our time squirrelled away in our homes pouring ourselves pixel by pixel into social media space. Thinking this morning of how we spend a huge amount of our time seeking validation through recording everything we do... wait... everything? Certainly we employ our own internal editor as we Snapchat and Instagram and text and Hangout and whatnot (note to self: create a social media space called Whatnot. Find a developer), and we decide what we present and what we don't present.
We each have a sort of non-visual emoji or avatar that we present as an online representation of ourselves. Maybe we feel free to engage in this because we have some sense of control when people aren't looking directly at us? I don't know. How close are you to the person you present as online? Is there a difference, or are the people that have known you the longest shaking their heads in wonder? Like, I grew up with you motherfucker! Who you trying to kid? Or do they just see what they want to see anyway thereby making what you present, whatever it may be, irrelevant. Certainly I've experienced that. It's frustrating and makes me think I can say or do anything and not sway their opinions, good or bad.
Or is there some unspoken agreement online and offline like, "Hey I won't blow up your spot as long as you keep my secrets too."
I like to think that I'm very close to the person I present as on social media. I am perhaps a lot more soft-hearted, sensitive and certainly more sentimental. I might be a little less angry, but even I'm not sure about that. I might actually be more angry than I present. I think I'm being honest but maybe everyone else does too. That's probably a mixed bag, but I don't think people are quite that un-self-aware that they don't know that they're participating in gross misrepresentation. The average person must be just insecure enough to be afraid that they'll be exposed for whatever it is they actually are when they're walking down the street.
I was reminded this morning, and I have written about this before, of how upon splitting up with someone I was involved with for a considerable period of time, I realized that my presence in her life was practically non-existent to many people that she knew. I knew her family quite well and was very present in that single offline circle, but was carefully excised, almost surgically, from the public life and public persona. There were photo albums of events I attended and trips we took but there was no evidence at all of my presence. It didn't bother me so much but I think I come back to it because I'm still processing what it means to have these separate lives that many of us do. How many living entities are we? What is the motivation of... well, that's a silly question on the verge of happening, isn't it?
So, how close are you to the persona you present in your digital life? Who is your avatar? Is it really an accurate representation of you? What is this living, breathing thing you've created, and how invested are you in it? Could you survive being exposed as being other than this digital Frankenstein, an attempt at a virtually perfect version of yourself that might go terribly bad?
I guess what I'm saying is that as our public presentation of ourselves becomes increasingly archived digitally, our sense of self-awareness and self-knowledge must expand to include what we present in these spaces, either intentionally or unintentionally, and why we're doing it.