Tuesday, 19 May 2015

知觉 | This isn't really me

Posted by: Dom Lowth

So it looks like you’ve found thunk one way or another.

We’re fully aware that we haven’t properly introduced ourselves, but I guess the idea is that you’ll get to know us through what we write about. This blog isn’t going to be a ‘dear diary’ sort of thing, and it probably won’t be as personal as many out there, but it is going to be our honest perspectives on the world.

Something I believe it is worth telling you before we really get started with thunk is that you already know more about it than any of our peers. In the hope that the blog remains true to what we actually think and is not forced into the tight mould of ‘what our friends want us to think’, we haven’t spread the news around that we've started it. We thought that this would help to keep it completely separate from school too. The truth is that if this starts to feel like homework, it’s never going anywhere.

That should have all been in the introduction I wrote a few weeks ago… I’m going to move on.

This isn’t really me.

Yes, I am Dominic Lowth. I am seventeen years old. Everything I’ve told you is true. However, like almost every young person of my generation, I have an identity which I display on the internet; one separate and very different from the identity I present in the real world - the ‘outernet’ as I heard someone call it recently. We all do this, whether we realise it or not.

The evidence for these artificial personas is most obvious on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook and Twitter, we interact with people we would never start a conversation with in real life as if we’re suddenly best mates. We write posts and tweet about our lives in a way that really isn’t true to our characters. On Instagram, we post photos of ourselves, posing as outgoing, fearless, stylish, happy and cool. You may be all of the above, but I’m going to make the pretty safe assumption that, like me, you’re probably not. No offence.

I know I’m guilty of it myself. Earlier today I was enjoying a perfectly innocent conversation over Facebook with someone I see every now and then, the truth being that - due to my character (and theirs) - in real life the chat would have died within a couple of minutes. We’d be talking about the A Levels I’d chosen and how my exams were going in no time. Our internet identities were perfectly compatible, but our actual identities are not. And that probably won’t change.

As I’m writing this with a packet of chocolate buttons open on the table next to me, I’m starting to wonder what the problem is. So what if we’re a bit chattier and easy-going online…

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people in the world who use the internet as a means through which to bully and abuse. However, for most of us our internet identities are built to reflect the most positive elements of our real identities. This year, I've pushed myself to be more confident in getting to know new people, and in talking to those I already know; not just when I have to. In other words, I’m working towards channeling some of the qualities I present myself as having on the internet into my actual personality. If you've created this ideal version of yourself to hide behind online, why not actually be that person? Stop hiding. Be outgoing and positive; in real life.

I know it’s not that simple. Obviously the majority of us don’t deliberate as much about how we present ourselves online as I've suggested, if at all. The unspoken social rules that exist on social media websites are clearly very different to those present in the outside world. The argument could be made that it’s probably safer to do as much as possible to keep your life online separate from your actual life.

All I really want to say (how it’s taken 700 words already is beyond me) is this:

If you present yourself online as someone much more positive, confident and social than you really are, ask yourself the question: what’s stopping me from actually living that way? Don’t suddenly stop enjoying social media; messaging people and sharing things - doing everything that it’s designed for. Instead, start doing something to make yourself more like that in real life. If you message someone new over the weekend, start talking to them face to face when you next see them. Clearly you already know each other anyway, so what’s the problem?

If, on the other hand, you hide your true, insecure self behind the screen of your phone, and do all you can to make others insecure, feeling safe in the knowledge that no one can see your lack of self-confidence through your 'hard' status updates and posed profile pictures, they probably can.

If you’re really looking for it, you can just about tell if someone in real life lacks some of the confidence they portray themselves as having online.

But it’s screamingly obvious if someone is crude and cruel online to make up for their true absence of pride and self-respect.

I hope some of that made sense and sinks in.

Expect a blog post every week from now on. Ryan, you’re up.

Dom's listening to: ‘Loud Places’ by Jamie xx & Romy


  1. I hope these words really hit it hard for some people