Being online will out you in the end.
I love social media experts. The person insisting that there’s some kind of disconnect between face to face and online interaction? Is appealing to a stereotype that ceased to have any validity before the internet became available to the general public. A seventy-five percent of the world’s population didn’t go online because it made anything easier or because it allowed them to do anything they couldn’t have done offline, they did it because it was cool. Even those who got drug into it kicking and screaming because you can function about as well without a connection as you can without a telephone ultimately wound up online as a byproduct of geek envy.
The IRL/Online argument is an expression of personal inadequacy. Like any other endeavor, expressing one’s self online is a discipline, and it’s unavoidable that some people will think it simply emerged effortlessly and resent that it hasn’t come to them as easily.
The people who are invariably first to wail and shriek about “hiding behind a computer screen”? Are the most likely to be phonies, themselves. There are exceptions to every rule, but the thing to bear in mind is that people are not fundamentally more honest in face to face interactions — if you think about it, they’re actually LESS honest.
Go and find an article on politics that allows comments to be posted and take a look at all the fine examples of the greater internet fuckwad theory.
Now think about this: unless they don’t do anything else online (and who doesn’t play cow clicker these days?), they’re somewhere else the rest of the time, being perfectly nice people and making lolcats. I’m all for anonymity, particularly in instances where people have genuine reason to fear retribution, however for the most part, such circumstances are extremely rare unless you live under a dictatorship and the rest is a lot of poor excuses and faulty risk assessment.
It’s one thing to create a twitter account and discover that somebody else has already taken your name. It’s quite another to tell someone that you’d never sign on with anything other than a pseudonym because you fear having your cat stabbed to death while you sleep.
Did you know that you can use regular english language sentences in google and actually find stuff? Because almost no one does. Want a truly accurate picture of the internet? Imagine four point five billion people attempting to make use of something based on how they imagine it ought to work and completely unwilling to learn how it actually does.
Wanna know why Wil Wheaton has more than a million and a half followers on twitter? Because he isn’t anything but himself. He isn’t hiding behind some veneer of “civility” or professionalism; having some vague association with being a celebrity doesn’t prevent anyone from being an asshole towards him. But much more than that, he’s just some guy on twitter, hanging out, like everyone else. Doubtless the public visibility helps greatly, but it would be worthless if all he did was spam links.
Creating a fake alter-ego is a lot of work, and most of the time, the effort fails.
But for the people that actually need to read an article to know to be themselves? They’ll learn the hard way. Eventually. Being online outs everybody in the end.