Do you think you know me? I mean, from reading this do you think you understand who I am, what makes me tick, what I don't like and so on? This is purely exploratory you understand, I am trying to gauge if people who read internet material feel that they have a personal connection with those who have an internet persona that choose to express themselves there. Like me, though the question is more general than that. Do you think you know anyone whose web output you consume? I have a reading list of regular bloggers over on the right hand side. Some of them I do know, some of them I've never ever met. Do I think I know them? Well yes and no.
When someone writes, a certain amount of them finds its way onto the page. It's inevitable, and I challenge anybody to create an internet persona entirely unassociated with their true self. When I say anybody, really I mean birders. Birders tend not to be professional writers who could pull this off, as by definition they base themselves too much in fact. Though interestingly fiction vs non-fiction arguments frequently take up acres of web birding space...
Personally, I write fairly familiarly, lots of "yous", lots of directed sentences, in so far as the written word is ever direct. I also write a lot, more, perhaps, than many people out there who use this medium. So do you know me better than other bloggers? I tend not to shy away from making my feelings known, and I don't suspect anyone would ever call me enigmatic, but still? Can you really say that yeah, that bloke from Wanstead, yeah I reckon I've got the measure of him.
This question came up on various blogs a couple of weeks ago, during Duskygate and coincidentally coinciding with one of my more aggressive periods. I never ended up writing much about the suppression in Devon, I simply didn't know enough about it. Usually this doesn't stop me, in some cases it encourages me, but a little bit of introspection caused me to mostly hold fire on that particular incident, which was probably for the best. But would you have discovered anything else about me? Or about the circumstances surrounding the Thrush?! I'd wager no on both counts.
Do you read this and this and think "bad case of OCD"? If you read this, or read the drivel I slap on Twitter, do you think that is the whole of me? Keyboards do funny things to people for sure, but there is so much on the internet that you just can't be sure about it. Thinking about it another way, those of you that have jobs, would you send an email to a colleague in the same way that you might compose a thread on an internet forum? I wouldn't. I'm a completely different person at work. Not necessarily serious all of the time, but with a certain amount of gravitas and grumpiness that is necessary when managing a team of people in a tough environment. So, do my colleagues know me? Does my boss? Do the people that report to me? The me at work is once again very different from the me on the net, or the me at home, though I have been known to get mixed up and start giving my children deliverables when I get in.
All I am trying to say is that so much communication happens online that it's easy to get confused between the internet and real people. Those who you might think you "know", you probably don't, so judge accordingly. Don't take everything you read on the computer seriously, no matter how difficult that might be. And above all, make sure your life contains real people. If it all gets a bit much, one response to the confusion that often reigns online is to give the whole lot the elbow, even for a short while. That's exactly what one well known blogger has done. Again. Difficult no doubt, but it's only a couple of clicks away. Are you brave enough? Goodbye digital me, goodbye digital others. Tough call, but I'm going to base myself in the real world for a while. And that should remind me, recalibrate me, as to what it's actually all about. Perhaps I should try it?