You can be anyone you want to be on line.

So many of us hide behind photographs – some are not even of us. We flirt. We bend the truth. We lurk.

Some of us remember a time when there was no Internet. What did we chose for armor then? Are we now bolder because we can be – behind the computer screen?

Sometimes people try to be someone they are not; the fantasy of actually succeeding is intoxicating. The fantasy drives us to act in ways we never would in person.

I find it fascinating that most of us are braver behind the keys. I wonder – what would it take for us to behave that way in our everyday lives off line and why don’t we do so? If our answer is that we would not behave in such a way other than on line, it begs the question: What are we so ashamed of?

23 comments

  1. Since I have used my real name. I am the same person in real life. I usually try to do my blogging, and tweeting late night, so I don't take quality time away from my family.

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  2. @Nicole – I know what you mean about the real world being overwhelming. It's nice to just 'play' on line without ever having to get out of our jammies!@Kimberly – That's great that you make sure your quality time is spent off line. 🙂 I use my real name too. I just know so many stories of people from the internet… and I used to have an alias for an erotica blog I wrote. Now I am just me. 🙂

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  3. I actually am the person off line that I am online and my mouth frequently gets my ass into trouble.The only thing I don't do is post pictures of myself anymore after my blog and photobucket account got hacked.I used to be gullible.I learned the hard way just how people online can twist perception and manipulate an image.Don't be fooled by people with money either. Often times, they are worse then the average Joe because their money allows them to purchase all the latest software before anyone else has the chance to get it at a store.

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  4. Hello! This is so true – I'm so glad you are being just you. I am pretty much fully me online – I know I'd rather read truth and honesty that fantasy – that's what fiction is for – I'm a fiction writer.

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  5. Thanks ladies (and thank YOU FW, for the award!) I think it's true too. It's easy to be gullible on line when you are new to making 'friends' etc. I was big time!It's easy to trust people when you are a good person. I also think Married men on line are in a class by themselves. NOT ALL men who are married and on line are in this class. Some of them are actually here just to make friends – but think about it. The draw is freedom… and the 'out' they use it to either come up front and say "I'm a married dude" or we find out soon enough. Either way, it's considered harmless if on line. I was one of them. I thought it was all harmless flirting….but be careful out there. There are some REALLY unstable people behind those keyboards. I learned the hard way. Shame on me for that whole experience. Live and learn. Having said all that – I have met my new man, live with him now, and some amazing women all from blogs and emails! There are some great people out there too! My man and I were both in crazy places with other people (pretending to be someone we weren't). We came clean with one another and haven't looked back.

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  6. I actually feel more limited online. I can generally say anything I want among friends, family and even random people on the street without much consequence. However if I post a blog about deviant sex, drug use or something else too dark for corporate America and it gets back to my employer I could lose my job. I originally had my email with my full name on my page but I decided to take that down because I googled myself and found my blog. Until there is some sort of protection online from employers (which I doubt there ever will be) I'll probably continue to be semi-anonymous.

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  7. It would be nice to be even more open online. As a previous commentor said, you have to watch what you say or your employer could have issues.I have a regular family blog that I'm pretty much an open book in. What I'm dealing with, how I feel etc etc. My husband would much rather I had it private but what fun is that?I also have an annonymous blog that I use to vent on stuff I don't feel free to say on my family blog. Perhaps someday I will announce that it's me there too but not right now 🙂

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  8. I think it's sad that we can't share ourselves openly because our employer may 'catch' us, but I totally agree we need to be catious. That said, where is the line between who we are outside of work – in public and who we are on-line? If we are not displaying our employer name, our position, etc. do they have any recourse? As long as we are not breaking the law, bad mouthing our employer (and company) and just being ourselves, what cause do they have to have any power over our jobs? I suppose every situation is different. If I were a principal at a school and read a blog from a teacher who was publicly invovled with anything violent, that would grab my attention. If I were a corporate executive and read a blog from a secretary in the office about her love for nude beaches, it would not cause me to be concerned. My situation is unique in that my story took place over 20 years ago. I never broke the law and I am very open about my past.

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  9. I can be almost anyone I want online. The only limit is just how far out do I want to stick my neck. Even as Ivan Toblog I curb my enthusiasm for being able to stretch the limits. I am a little more outrageous with people I have known for a long time. Even then I hold back because the hamsters are apt to take us anywhere.Thank goodness that the only time we're responsible for our thoughts is when we act upon them.

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  10. This post holds many truths. I've discovered that many people I befriended online ended up not being who they claimed to be. Even worse, I've met some real a*holes who feel they are God's gift to the internet as far as flaming and trolling goes, but once you get them face to face, their cowardice is easily apparent. I'm glad that people say I'm quite nearly the same in person as I am online. I can only hope that's a good thing and not a bad one 🙂

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  11. Just left a long and lovely comment here and lost it, but will do my best to recreate. I am so thrilled to have found your blog and your words. This post is stuffed with big and profound questions that shake about in my head (and on my blog) too. I wonder if we come here to this odd ether to be brave, to dream or whether we come here to hide behind screens and cower behind keys. Are online selves overlapping with real life selves? Are they united by some essence? In tension with one another? Is there an opaque dialectic. I don't know, but worth thinking about.Wonderful post.

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  12. Interesting. All my family and friends read my blog, and I'm self-employed, so I don't know why I don't use my real name. Maybe because it's prosaic.Mind you I do have a horrible beard since Christmas which rather precludes a photo

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  13. I think a lot of us didn't have any armor before the internet (and I think it's that minor detail that makes most of our forays onto the internet that much more appealing).

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  14. I think there it is easier to be open to your past once you are more thoroughly into your future and its ability to do damage on that future has lessened.When it is not as such a distance in years, sometimes the fear of its effect on your future is still at the forefront of one’s mind, even when you no longer wish it to be. At least when it comes to identity.I know how I feel about my past, I know that I honour its existence. I know that when I get close enough to a person there is a prerequisite of them being confided in about it.I wish I could do this will all people all the time.I am hate its secret in my present or future existence.I look forward to the time it can no longer do damage to my future, according to the expectations and will of others. Then I will dance naked through the fields shouting it at the top of my voice.I’m not the type to bury my past in denial, but own it. I am notoriously open about my life. Society views this differently. This is the one part that requires so much censoring, not only for me, but for my loved ones and their lives and how it could affect them.I am no different on line than in real life BECAUSE I am hidden behind a pseudonym. Speaking on line is a liberation I cannot afford in my real life, so I am grateful for it. Before on line, it was only my journal that journeyed with me… now I have real people. There is some blessing in that.

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