Remember when the internet was anonymous? You went to a website for something you were interested in and found out there was a forum. You decided to join, and you were asked to create a screen name. You could be whoever you wanted to be.
The first time I did this, it was kind of an amazing thing. The previous decade or so of my life I’d spent hunched at a desk at school unsure how to talk to my peers, or perhaps unsure if I even wanted to talk to them, then suddenly the world opened up and I discovered I could say whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted via a keyboard. I could sit and think about what I wanted to say, or go away and come back, without anybody looking at me, waiting for me, visibly judging anything I might say if I did come up with anything, or judging me for not saying anything at all. It was fantastic.
Enter MySpace. Facebook. Youtube trying to make you use your real name just to log in and make a playlist of dorky nostalgic music. Extroverts have now taken over the internet, and I sort of want to tell them to bugger off. It’s no longer a safe place. While this new era of internet does give me the freedom to respond to people I already know without all that external pressure of a face-to-face meeting, I feel even more pressured to ensure I don’t say the wrong thing in front of the wrong people. I feel like something has been stolen from me in having my real name out there.
Don’t get me wrong, I like having those connections and knowing what all my old and new friends and acquaintances are up to, but at the same time I miss that hidden aspect of my life. Being able to discuss things with people I don’t know, who don’t know me, not even my real name. It was like keeping a journal or a diary, but other people read it and helped me figure things out, or even just shared their own experiences and that made me feel so damn normal.
My whole life I’ve felt like I missed the induction on How to Life. In a few years I’ll be 30, and I still have no clue how to interact with other human beings in a face-to-face setting without blushing or wanting desperately not to have to maintain eye contact. But I have Facebook. I mainly use it to play games and comment on posts of people I really know, while simply observing the lives of everyone else like some kind of creepy life pervert. I haven’t had a really good discussion with a stranger in a long time. I guess that’s why I’m here. Even if nobody reads this and I end up talking myself. It’s pretty nice to just say stuff. Stuff.