My first, personal, non-family blog post was basically about fostering an authentic online identity. I started a family blog when my first daughter was born, and I had thought for years that I wanted to write just for me—put my thoughts and observations out into the online chasm. But I was always worried about whether or not it would be appropriate, or that I would have to censor myself too much to be interesting, or even though it was for me, no one else would read it or care. (Really, it didn’t matter if anyone read it, but I still hoped at least one person would.)
Obviously, I said to hell with it and started this up, and this week a friend of mine (via Facebook), posted an interesting article which rekindled my passion for really being ourselves (or mostly), online. The article—The Anti-Social Network—basically says that we tend to only post the great stuff about our lives in our online, social spaces. In the status updates we’re always happy, witty, or insightful and all our photos are us and our friends or spouses having fun, our cute kids (always smiling), or something crazy/interesting/artsy etc. Our representation of ourselves and our lives online is very one-sided. And what the study found was that after viewing this stuff, most of us become depressed or are basically put in some form of bummer (yeah, that’s the scientific term). We actually believe that others are happier or better off than ourselves and we hate it.
I know I’ve sometimes wanted to just “shout out” online that I’m having a shitty day, or that I was so angry that I almost put my fist through a window, or I wept in the car for no fucking reason, but I always stop myself. No one wants to read that shit. No one wants to hear you complain. There’s no point in telling others that stuff. I’ll come across as baiting for pick-me-ups and that’s the last thing on earth that I want: a bunch of people I barely talk to anymore saying, “Aw, chin up little buddy!” or “Do you need a hug?” or “Wow, what the fuck is wrong with you, man?”
I don’t think it has to be that way though. I think we really can show a variety of feelings and expressions online as long as we can get over our insecurities. Maybe it won’t matter, but I think by showing a fuller picture of ourselves, it may actually bring us closer together. I know I generally appreciate people’s honesty, even if it does make me a little uncomfortable, because that’s reality. That’s being human. We’re happy AND sad. We’re funny AND boring as hell. Our kids are adorable angels and little assholes at times. Yes we are great but yes, we are shitty too. So I ask you: who’s with me in sharing some shitty?