2 November 2017

Our Online Selves

Do you have an online and offline self?

I think that everyone does to a certain extent.  I know that I do.

The thing is, we have our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit; a million different ways to connect with people, share your thoughts and feelings and yet, no matter what platform you choose, there is still an element of holding back.

Do you ever have that experience where you realise that you have access to the whole of the internet but cannot say what you are really feeling?  That you have to censor yourself with the thoughts that you want to share?

It sounds silly doesn't it. But it is true.  As opinionated as I am, I censor myself.  There are always things that you want to say that you can't.  Because the trouble with the internet is, that everyone is on it.

That isn't to say that there are not thousands of people who freely share every thought that they have online, but what I seem to see is that generally, those are the kind of people who generally do it from a point of hate and/or are of the far right mentality. 

One of the things that I have to wonder is whether these people get such a huge following (Milo Yiannopoulos for example had thousands and thousands of followers lapping up his hate rhetoric before he was banned on Twitter) purely because they are saying the things that the followers want to say, but can't?

Or is it an element of "Well they have said X, it so now it is OK for me to say it too" I have to wonder.  I do not doubt that many of the people who spread and incite hate, either publicly or anonymously online, are perfectly normal people offline.

That is a scary thought actually.

On my part, I am more cautious.  Being a outspoken, left leaning feminist is something that I would never change about myself, but I confess that I do avoid certain hashtags and will not be as vocal about some issues as I want to because of the hate that I will receive back.  Adding the fact that I am fat into the mix always intensifies any replies that I have received.

People who have disagreed with me on a subject in the past have then gone through my blog, looking for photographs of me and have created memes and shown pictures of me (most recently in a bathing costume) to others in an attempt to shame me.  It doesn't, but it does feel like that they will creep into parts of your life where they do not belong and so, I remain cautious.

I do not think that these people should be called trolls.  They can be dangerous and can seriously mess with your life, both online and offline.

How open are you online?

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