For real. When I play Monopoly, I go for blood every time. Be I in first place or last place, I am merciless, conniving, and absolutely eat my opponents alive. I hold no prisoners, everyone is executed on the spot and as soon as possible. When someone is terribly, terribly, terribly incorrect about something, I just don't let them know, I let everyone else know too. I once bullied a girl in high school because she was weird and had a mustache.
Oh forgive me father, for I have sinned.
See, the thing about the internet is that you only know as much or as little as I am willing to tell you. I can paint the portrait of myself however I please, be it what I write on here or what I write on social media. The above paragraph could have just as easily been lauding my own virtues. I could have made myself seem like a caring and nurturing person. A lovely and compassionate boy with nothing but goodness in his heart.
But I'm not. I'm human.
So is everyone else you read and interact with online.
Everyone is painting a picture of how they want to be perceived and looked at, whether they or we are aware of it or not. We are all shooting for a particular image, be it the compassionate and contemplative wanderer, the mindful druid, the savior of the faith, or the crazed priest of Dionysos. We are all making an image.
Now this isn't to say that these things are fake or not real. Often times our image is an outward and acted expression of who we are inside, but we do do things to reinforce, repair, salvage, or establish certain traits that we want to have associated with our personal image. Whether the image is true or false time will eventually bare witness to it, but online you can go for years (truly, years) without your image being exposed as phony. You have more time to think about actions when you are online, to think about posts and points. When you meet someone in person you get a more balanced view of who they are, a deeper fullness of character. The more time you spend with someone, the more you fully realize who they are fully and wholly. It is why two people can be madly in love and then six months later be repulsed with one another, and why two people can feel no chemistry at first glance and be getting married three years later and then staying married.
It is why they say never meet your idols. Their humanity destroys your idealization of them. It tears down the image that they have created and that you have credited as being their wholeness. You realize that what you thought you knew was merely illusion, with certain traits being upplayed and others being cast into shadow. Throughout this all, through this realization, I ponder, what kind of image have I created? Do I care? As much as I would like to say I don't, a small part of me does. Another part of me wishes that my readers could see me as who I am more fully. I wish I could sit down and have coffee with many of my readers and many of the people I read myself. But I can't, not yet anyway. Maybe someday.
Remember, even Oprah poops.
|by Joe Crimmings Photography on flickr|