I have several blog accounts. I have an instagram. I have twitter. I have facebook. I have linkedin. I have IMDB. I use googleplus. If you google my name you get me and a whole host of photographs of me. You can find me on youtube. You can find me on other people’s youtube.
I list all of these things out and it seems like a lot to me. I always thought I was quite a private person and I suppose compared to all the other types of social media accounts I know some people to have I am and in real life I am but the internet will find me and information on me, and that’s kind of scary.
It’s like we all have paparazzi on us. It’s called the internet. Before the internet your embarrassing night out photos would be between yourself, your mates and the guy in the chemist who developed them. Now the world can see your most unflattering photos with a simple click. You don’t have to be famous for everyone to know you anymore, you just have to be online.
I was a teenager in the age of myspace and bebo but it was back when most people still used disposable cameras and no one had picture phones. For me it was a more innocent time in my internet life. I had friends on my bebo account from all over the world and chatted with them regularly. When everyone jumped ship on bebo I lost contact with 99% of them which I’m still sad about. It was like the modern age equivalent of a pen pal. It was a time when I could add a randomer or they could add me and we both knew we were kids the same age as each other just looking to swap stories about school and our teenage angst. Nobody does that now. Maybe teenagers still do but facebook is a different animal than bebo and I would look like a major creep adding people who I didn’t know from half the world away. Do I still get randomers trying to add me? Of course! Usually spam bots or weird guys. Not a nice pen pal. Not a version of myself living in a different country that wants to swap work stories. I’d love that. I never get that. I get bad chat up lines in my ‘other’ folder in messenger.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re at a party or event, someone you’ve never met before comes up to you and are like “OMG Melissa, how are you?” because they follow you on social media. I do it vice versa too. Or another example. You chat to someone all the time online, online you guys are best buds but then you meet up and have zero chemistry friends wise, like nada to talk about? Yep. Congrats, you’ve just been internetted. It’s like being punked but you don’t get to meet Ashton Kutcher.
This is life for most people now and for the most part I think we’re ok with it. We complain. We talk about the good ole days like we’re 101 but really can you go back to life before Netflix and downloadable music? You really want to go to an agency to buy plane tickets or concert tickets? You don’t want to be able to order those fab clothes from America? We may not like our personal business always being online but could we actually go back to a time without being able to video call distant relatives or online shopping. No. No we couldn’t. You’re seriously lying to yourself if you say you could.
I lost all my myriad of worldly bebo friends bar one or two but through facebook I’ve kept in touch with nearly everyone I’ve known since playschool. I can see where my friends are when they travel or move abroad. I can talk every day with people I wouldn’t get to see in person everyday. If I didn’t have the internet I would have lost touch with all of these people. If I didn’t have the internet you wouldn’t be reading this and I would just be assaulting my diary with my ramblings.
My relationship with the internet is still love/hate and I think we need to step away from it more often and actually live our lives. I think we also need to realise that people’s internet lives aren’t always their actual lives. Sometimes I can feel really crappy about myself when I see what other people are doing. On one hand I’m glad to have not lost touch with other people but on the other I kinda don’t want to know that someone has gotten their dream job in a fantastic place when I’m still searching. I’m sure when I post about my holidays or the events I get to go to there’s probably someone at home hating me a little for making them hate themselves. This is only because we’re constantly in each other’s pockets. If I went a year without seeing a friend who went away and then they came back and told me everything that they had done I would feel excited for them but watching friends publish their 4th book when you’re still working on book one beamed at you across the unfriendly glare of your computer screen when you’re having a bum day is not fun. It all feels like a rush to catch up and it’s a vicious circle because you know that friend who you envy envies someone else.
Then there’s things like how many followers have you got? It matters. Not in everyone’s world but I work in media and it matters. I know there have been people in the past who wouldn’t give me the time of day at PR events because I only have 200 followers on instagram and they have thousands. It’s shallow and cold but thems the times we live in. How popular you are in real life doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about internet popularity. I don’t put too much value in this. I wouldn’t dismiss a person because they have little or no online presence. Mostly because I’m not an ass. Also because internet fame is fleeting. I remember people becoming youtube or internet sensations one year and now I’m just like “Who, oh yeah…them….”. Personally I like having lots of followers from a career perspective but I still see it as this make believe thing. In short I don’t let it go to my head. In short a lot of the internet is fake. Yes I could have thousands of facebook fans but how many of them could pick me out of a line up of one?
I guess that’s the flip side. Everyone knows you but they don’t know you. They know internet you and internet you is only a reflection of you. It’s the top layer of you. It’s the shallow end of the pool, but that’s what it’s suppose to be. The internet is like a photo album. You only put photos of the good times like holidays, birthdays and weddings in an album. There isn’t an album of you crying because of break ups or bereavements. The internet is one giant scrap book for you to share the good times. It’s a place we can go to to remind ourselves that even though today might be a bit rubbish we did some deadly stuff last week and oh yeah, we’re kinda sorta awesome 🙂
Personally I only ever want the internet to know the top layer of me because if it knew all of me then people could just google me before we met up, find out how crazy I am and cancel and then I’d never have a social life!